President Lawyers Alert
The President of Lawyers Alert (LA) and Commissioner at the Police Service Commission (PSC) Rommy Mom Esq, is advocating that the time has come for the Benue State Government to sign up to Open Government Partnership (OGP). His argument is that unless citizens are involved in planning, budgeting, execution/implementation of programmes and policies and expenditure, government business will remain secretive.
A government that is not open to citizens participation, according to Mom cannot meet the development needs of the people, no, it cannot fight corruption.
For the avoidance of doubt, OGP is a global platform towards ensuring fiscal transparency, anti- corruption, access to information and citizens involvement.
Nigeria has signed up to the global OGP platform as the 70th member nation. At home, no fewer than 11 states have signed up to it. Kaduna is the first state in Nigeria to have signed up to OGP and it is understood that the north west state is harvesting bountifully from the partnership.
“OGP comes with heavy donor support,” Mom noted adding that “it is ‘big business for government” He was however, quick to add that “it is important that OGP is citizens driven. The responsibility is on citizens to hold government accountable.”
In May last year, Lawyers Alert lead a team for a memo to the Benue State Transition Committee. The memo sought to provoke the state government to sign up to OGP.
According to Barr. Mom, CSOs must rise up and get government committed to accountability, openness in governance and people’s involvement in budgeting, award of contracts and government expenditure.
The Lawyers Alert President, who is concerned that Benue State has been fictionalised noted that CSOs in the state have the responsibility to ensuring that “our state is healed,” insisting that when citizens engage the government, peace returns and there is accountability.
Only recently, at a follow up meeting on OGP in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, a Steering Committee for domestication of Open Government Partnership (OGP) in Benue State was constituted with Mom Esq, as chairman.
Mom, who charged members of the committee on top level commitment and dedication in pushing for the actualisation of OGP, noted that getting the government to sign up to the project, which seeks to promote fiscal transparency, anti corruption, access to information and citizens involvement in planning, budgeting and implementation is by no means an easy task.
He therefore, called on Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to take the centre stage in pushing for government of Benue State to sign up to the partnership.
Writes from Benue State