It was like every other event organized in the seat of the Caliphate, with lots of dignitaries in attendance.
As expected, the aura of the event was however more unique than others. More so that it serves as a platform for allowing the citizenry have a say as to how best they think governance should be for the overall interest of the led.
Yes, it was a day, when all stakeholders from across the length and breadth of the state gathered under one roof to discuss the 2017 Sokoto state budget presented by Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal before the State House of Assembly for consideration.
The event organized by the state Coalition of Non- Governmental Organizations (CONSS) was in collaboration with office of the governor’s special adviser, media and public affairs, Mallam Imam Imam.
Registering his modest surprise over the turn out, chairman of CONSS, Alhaji Abdullahi Shunni noted that “similar event to allow for public input into the state budget had been organized six times before now, but of all, this remained the first time a seating governor honours the event in person”.
Abdullahi Shunni in his presentation noted that, when the governed are duly aware of the government’s plans for them, it makes the business of governance lots easier; hence, transparency is guaranteed.
“There are about 173 member organizations across the 23 local government areas of the state that formed the CONSS.
“And collectively, we are suggesting that the governor finds strategies to improve locally generated revenue in view of the dwindling federal government allocation.
“We are also suggesting that the governor should continue to strengthen agriculture, solid minerals industries and increase his political will in blocking leakages”.
Narrating the rationale behind the 2017 stakeholders budget summit from his own perspective, Mallam Imam Imam, the special adviser, media and public affairs to Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, opined that, the 2-Day Stakeholders’ Consultative Forum on the Sokoto 2017 budget will provide the needed opportunity to many to contribute on the various government policies and interventions.
Acccording to Imam Imam, the open-door policy of the government has amongst other benefits led to increased mutual trust.
“Sokoto is one of the few states that have adopted the Participatory Budget Model where communities often decide on what projects are to be executed by the government.
“Our aim is to continue to be more accountable and responsive. Citizens are diverse. Not only do citizen viewpoints differ from those of government insiders, it also differs from citizen to citizen.
“Because no single citizen or group of citizens is able to represent the views of all citizens, we arranged diverse groups of citizens at this forum to have a say on the fiscal document. We have representations from community leaders, organized private sector, women and student groups, non-governmental organizations among others.
“With this stakeholders’ consultative meeting, this administration has shown practically that it values the people’s ideas and their concerns.
“Participatory budgeting allows citizens to identify, discuss, and prioritize public spending projects, and it gives them the power to make real decisions about how things are done. This has led to entrenchment of mutual trust which is today benefiting government and citizens equally”.
Mallam Imam Imam in his submission on the relevance of collective intellectually mutual deliberation as a reliable source for better achievements noted that everybody’s view point matters in good governance.
“When residents gather as we have here today, they have the opportunity to agree upon important decisions, and with everyone weighing in, we can build healthier, more vibrant, and more economically diverse and economically sound communities.
“Sokoto’s 2017 budget has outlined various strategies that will lead to increased investment, boost internal revenue and ensure inclusive growth in all parts of the state.
“The strategies to be adopted include aligning monetary, trade and fiscal policies and expand infrastructure, ensure the development of small and medium scale enterprises, improve ease of doing business, deliver the desired change in the agricultural sector and importantly expand government’s social investment programmes in areas like education, health, youth and women empowerment”.
After herald of speeches by other dignitaries, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal took the stage and disclosed that the 2017 Sokoto Stakeholders Budget Summit was very important hence it lays further foundation for all-inclusive government.
Tambuwal, however broke his silence on some of the criticisms rained on him by the people of the state with a very revealing testimony on reasons for some of his actions considered absurd by some.
What baffles many was not just the mere fact that Governor Tambuwal gave an explicit but very convincing reasons for appointing those considered as non-indigenes into his administration but also left participants in the 2017 Budget Summit in no doubt that his appointments will continue to be on merits.