By Bashir Mohammed
Senior Programme Officer, Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), Malam Isiyaku Garba Yakasai, has described consistent budget tracking by citizens as a veritable key to ensuring transparency and accountability in ideal democratic setting.
Speaking at a one day stakeholdersâ€™ forum on budget tracking, organised by CITAD in Kano yesterday, Yakasai said the essence of electing leaders to positions of authority was for them to live above board by fulfilling their campaign promises to the electorate, adding that the organisation had come up with the programme to remind leaders of their responsibility to the people.
According to him, open budget was all about enhancing transparency and accountability and fostering the peopleâ€™s participation in governance by demystifying government budgets, positing that people across the country were keen to understand and participate meaningfully in discussions on budgets and governance.
He stated that citizens in many countries are keen in pressurising their governments for accountability, pointing out that whatever elected leaders promised when the last votes were cast and counted, the critical question was how governments actually manage their funds to address the challenges of poverty, provide essential services such as education and healthcare as well as make public investments to secure their future.
He further revealed that 20 years ago, hardly any organisation focused on budget transparency as key to improving democratic accountability and improving outcomes for the poor, adding that over 200 groups in at least 119 countries engaged in such work, according to the international budget partnership, a global research and advocacy organization that collaborates with budget groups around the world.