By Labaran Tijani
A renowned analyst and Lead Director Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Mr Ezekiel Onyekpere has called for inclusive budgeting, saying that it provides the opportunity for society to utilize its full capacity, expertise and potentials.
With this approach, he argued that it will work for improvements in living standards,economic growth and social development.
Onyekpere made the call while speaking on “State Level Budgeting for Development” at a one-day Budget Summit on Inclusiveness and Participation in Budgetary Process at State Level which was organised by Centre for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR) in Lokoja.
Explaining, he said that through inclusive budgetary, economic policies and the budget would be essentially directed at maintaining the necessary conditions for investors to create value.
He added that inclusive budgeting will create opportunities for the poor to get out of poverty against the backdrop of all segments of society, given the opportunity to contribute to “cake baking” and as equal participants in the sharing.
Speaking on the ever simmering issue of restructuring of the country, Onyekpere stated that any form of restructuring that cedes more powers to state governors would only spell doom or disaster for the nation as they already weird too much power.
Onyekpere said that the governors in their present position were like “Unmovable movers”, saying that they had hijacked Local Government administration in the country and were already forcing the Federal Government to dance to their tune.
“If you restructure Nigeria and allocate more money and power to the state governors, they will create monsters that no one can imagine. In two years, you will be crying to go back to where we were”, he said.
Earlier in his opening remarks, Mr Miliki Abdul, Executive Director, CHRCR described budget as the second most important document in the life of the country, noting, only the constitution of the country took precedence over it.
Miliki decried the annual ritual of budgeting without commensurate impact on the lives of the people, arguing that accusations of selective implementation of budgets, late release of capital votes and disregard for the Appropriation Act had been the norm.
He said that the goal of the centre was to institutionalise Anti-corruption, Transparency and Accountability in Nigeria by ensuring necessary political commitment to deepen and spread of the crusade particularly in an elections year.
The Executive Director also urged government at all levels to strive towards ensuring the full implementation of the annual budget as it would go a long in facilitating the needed development in the society.
Miliki stressed that effective budget should be “capable of accelerating growth in the real and proactive sectors as well as redistribution of wealth within the society and generally to promote national development”
In his contribution at the Summit, the Chairman House Committee on Budget and member representing Idah Local Government Area at the Kogi state House of Assembly, Hon Haruna Idoko Musa appreciated the organiser of the programme describing it as very laudable.
However, Hon. Idoko assured the organiser of the summit that he will impressed upon his colleagues to involve members of the public and CSOs in the next year budget hearing to make good the philosophy of inclusive budget a reality.