By Habibu Harisu
Sokoto, – Alhaji Adamu Rara, Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Sokoto State, says the state is committed to implementations of Open Government Partnership (OGP) initiative to promote accountability in governance.
Rara, made this known in a keynote address read on his behalf by Malam Garba Wababe, a staff of the ministry at a town hall meeting organised by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) on Saturday in Sokoto.
The Commissioner described the Freedom of Information Act and OGP documents as procedures that are important to the nation.
The Director-General of NOA, Dr Garba Abari, said the documents, aimed at promoting transparency and accountability in governance using the two documents stipulations.
Abari, represented by Mrs Theresa Madwueke, said that NOA started community sensitisation programmes to create awareness on importance and implementation of the documents.
He said the town hall meeting was a starting point in the campaign.
He said that NOA officers at the local government level across the country would conduct similar exercise to ensure that people at the grassroots are educated on the existing documents.
”The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has made issues of accountability, fiscal transparency, fight against corruption, peace, security and openness in government business and transactions as cardinal goals of his government.
”Toward achieving the objectives, the Federal Government, developed some implementing policies which include the use of FOI provisions for whistle blower policy and implementation of Single Treasury Account (TSA).
”Others are signing into law, the OGP principle to provide international platform for domestic reforms including government organs, civil societies and private sectors.
”NOA as the leading agency for the implementation of some commitments of OGP action plan has developed dialogue mechanism of transparency, accountability and good governance.
”All these are implemented between citizens and government to facilitate a culture of openness,” Abari said.
He said the agency has established robust relationship with the civil society groups and the media through roundtable platforms and partnership in line with the mandates.
According to him, documents have been translated into indigenous languages to promote understanding.
Also speaking, the State Director of NOA, Alhaji Maude Danchadi, said the event was targeted at increasing public awareness to demand access to information from government or statutory bodies.
Danchadi explained that the event was also to promote citizens engagement and empowerment for good governance as well as facilitate culture of openness and transparency in government business among others.
In a lecture on FOI, the State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Mr Muhammad Muhammad, said that constitution guaranteed citizen’s rights to demand for accountability in government activities as officials are public servants.
He said the FOI had provided increased access, demands and restrictions which accorded lawful flow of actions and inactions between individuals and groups aimed at facilitating better lives of citizens.
Another speaker, Dr Auwal Umar, dwelled on OGP principles, manners of implementation and progress with challenges so far recorded by International and national organizations on partnerships on budgets, policies and programmes by Federal Government and domesticated states.
Discussions were held on application of the documents and sharing of knowledge by participants.
The event was attended by representatives of law enforcement agencies, anti corruption agencies, civil society groups, traditional and religious bodies, government departments and agencies.