The Kaduna State Government has introduced Local Government Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Programme, (LFTAS), as part of ongoing reforms to strengthen service delivery at local levels.

Alhaji Muhammad Abdullahi made the remark in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna on Tuesday.

He said the decision to introduce LFTAS programme was borne out of the government’s renewed effort to make local government areas vibrant to meet the aspirations and yearnings of the people,

Abdullahi told NAN at a sideline of the inauguration of the newly elected local government chairmen in the state, that the government had set aside N20 million as incentives for Local Government Areas that embrace fiscal transparency and accountability.

He explained that the Kaduna State Local Government Reform Law 2017 has mandated the LGAs to develop a culture of participatory governance by encouraging community members to participate in the preparation, implementation and review of development plans.

“These structural reforms are intended to give local governments a greater capacity for effective service delivery, promote development at grassroots and ensure policy alignment with the state and Federal Government policies.

“At the end of every year, the local government areas would be assessed based on the extent of citizens engagement in budget preparations, public procurement system, and how they tackled absenteeism and negative attitude to work among other areas.

“Each category attracts certain amount of money, but the LGAs that meet all the categories will receive N20 million.

“The step was taken to promote development at the grassroots by creating an autonomous, adequately funded, transparent and responsible local government system capable of delivering service to the people.

“The programme which would commence in July 2018, will be coordinated jointly by the state’s Planning and Budget Commission and the Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, ”he said.

NAN reports that the Kaduna State Government had in September 2017 commenced the implementation of the Open Governance Partnership, (OGP), of the federal government aimed at enhancing transparency, accountability and citizens participation in governance.

The state subscribed to seven commitment areas which include ensuring citizen participation in budget circle, open contracting, adopt common reporting standard, promote ease of doing business and improve compliance with Freedom of Information Act.

Others are to develop permanent dialogue mechanism on transparency, accountability, and good governance between citizens and government and adopt technology-based citizens’ feedback on government project and programmes.

Nigeria subscribed to OGP on May 11, 2016, thus making it the 70th country to join the programme.

“Kaduna State is, therefore, the first in the country to subscribe to the OGP, because of the willingness of the government to be open and transparent,” Abdullahi said.

Similarly, Mrs Pheube Yayi, Director, Development Aid Coordination, PBC, told NAN that the state had become an open book since it subscribed to OGP.

“OGP has placed Kaduna State on the table; an open book for citizens to read, participate, criticise and make suggestions on the way forward.

“Currently government documents like budgets, policy documents and other government information are uploaded online for citizens to access.

“Town hall meetings are also being held to foster citizen’s participation in budgeting processes and other developmental programmes because of the willingness of the government to be open and transparent, “Yayi said.

NAN reports that the state government had in February trained local government Directors of planning with needed planning skills to bridge the development gap between urban and rural areas.

The training will also enable them to effectively draw up development plans for their respective local government areas to achieve the desired objective.

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