From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha has urged state governments to key into the Open Government Partnership (OGP) initiative to enhance transparency and accountability in governance.
Mustapha said the federal government has been collaborating OGP, an international transparency and accountability organization, to ensure that budget planning, approval, implementation, monitoring and reporting meet the needs of citizens and that citizens have open access to budget information in a format that is both human and machine readable.
He spoke on Thursday in in Asaba at the 2nd Quarterly meeting of Secretary to Government of the Federation and Secretaries to State Government with the theme: “Democratic governance and Sustainable Development in Nigeria: Opportunities in Key Sectors of the Economy”.
According to him, the FG also keyed into the OGP initiative to “improve accountability and transparency of government procurement process through the implementation of open contracting and public participation in the public contracting process.”
The SGF explained that the quarterly forum meeting strived to build the required synergy between the federal and state bureaucracies in order to enhance harmony and improve relationship between the tiers of government.
He said the forum provided an atmosphere for critical discussions and policy articulation, experience sharing, peer review and adaptations.
“Distinguished colleagues, as you are aware, Nigeria operates constitutional democracy, which has characteristics such as guaranteed freedoms, equity, justice, transparency and accountability among others.
“Democracy also promotes an open participatory process, feedback mechanism, rule of law, thereby guaranteeing better and fairer government policies, programmes and project implementation.
“As leaders charged with responsibility of servicing government machinery, policy coordination, monitoring implementation of programmes and policies and reporting in our respective jurisdictions, we need to address the question of how to effectively deliver democracy dividends in form of well-articulated policies, programmes and projects.
“At the Federal level, the realization of the critical role of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Office in the coordination of government policies, programmes and projects led to conduct of an Institutional appraisal in 2019,” he noted
Mustapha said the appraisal provided a better appreciation of the scope of the office mandate and functions and more innovative ways of delivering them.
“In addition, the feedback process is also in place where citizens participate to have a greater say in public decision-making as well as the desire by many governments to improve inclusivity and responsiveness led to calls for more openness in governance.
“The Federal Government would continue to give priority to high employment generating sectors, business improvement environment and youth development, adding that social investment programmes will continue to be given the required attention.
“The active support and collaboration of sub-national governments is therefore very critical as we strive to resolve the present economic challenges of our country ,Nigeria.
“The sustainable development goals are being steadily implemented and substantial progress has been attained in a number of goals, as we work towards meeting the 2030 target, States are also encouraged to partner with the Federal government in this area.
“I urge you to utilize the instrumentality of your office as the policy coordination hub of government to fast-track the initiation and implementation of policies and programmes, as well as harness, the various opportunities in key sectors of the economy, offered by the federal government to improve the lives and well-being of our people,” Mustapha added.
In his remarks, Governor of Delta and Vice-Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa said an effective democratic governance would help to advance sustainable development.
Represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Patrick Ukah, Okowa commended the SGF for keeping faith with the cause of advancing the forum through continuous engagements with SSGs.
He said public service provides incredible opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the people and urged them to use their privileged offices to improve the lives of the people in their respective states.