By Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
The Kaduna State Government has disbursed N152.4 million to the 23 the Local Government Councils (LGCs) of the state as performance grant for Local Government Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Programme (LFTAS).
The Commissioner for Planning and Budget Commission, Mr Muhammad Sani Abdullahi, disbursed the grants in Kaduna after the 14th Economic Planning Board Meeting which he chaired.
Abdullahi popularly known as Dattijo, explained that the LFTAS programme was introduced by the Kaduna State Executive Council in June 2018.
He said that the programme was a reform initiative designed to strengthen fiscal performance and sustainability at local government level.
“The programme will also strengthen intergovernmental fiscal coordination by supporting good practice on fiscal behavior and standards across the local government council.
“It will reduce fiscal risk to the state government in the long run, help in efficient implementation of development plans and policies and increase community participation in governance.
He added that the programme focuses on five thematic areas as Disbursement Link Indicators (DLIs), namely budget preparation process, adherence to policy documents, and strengthened internally generated revenue.
Others, according to him, are improving public procurement systems and reducing payroll fraud, and tackling absenteeism and non-challant attitude of primary school teachers and health personnel.
He said that a local government can get up to N20 million based on their performance in line with the DLIs.
The commissioner said that after verification of the LGCs performance by an independent agent, Price water house Coopers (PwC), Zaria, Jema’a and Kaduna South local councils emerged the best three performing councils.
He said that the LGCs got the FTAS incentives of N9.94 million, N9.27 million, and N9.26 million respectively, while the remaining LGAs got between N3.49 million and N8.75 million.
He said that based on impressive performance in the first phase, the government would consider increasing the incentive to between N100 million to N200 million in the future.
Dattijo however said that the increment would be subject to the improved performance of the LGCs in entrenching fiscal transparency, accountability, and sustainability in council’s administration.
Also speaking, Mrs Hadiza Umar, Citizen’s Co-Chair, Open Government Partnership, commended the Planning and Budget Commission for the efforts to strengthen transparency and accountability in local government governance.
Umar, who was represented by Mr Muhammad Kassim, Citizen Co-Chair, Open Contracting, OGP, said that the OGP would continue to support all reforms geared towards improving transparency and citizen engagement in governance.
Mr Yusuf Goje of Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment & Development, also lauded the government for disbursing the grant after waiting for several years.
Goje said that being part of the process, the civil society would continue to collaborate with the government for the sustainability of the programme and have seen its benefits for people at the grassroots.
He recommended timely disbursement of the grant to sustain the momentum and urged the council’s chairmen to make best use of the grant, adding that the civil society would track the utilisation.
On his part, Mr Abubakar Buba, Chairman, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), thanked Gov. Nasir El-Rufai for the Initiative and pledged to sustain the efforts and take the initiative to the ward level.
The Chairman of Zaria Local Government Council, Aliyu Ibrahim, said that the council emerged the best because of the commitment to serve the people.
Ibrahim, who was represented by the Vice Chairman, Malam Idris Yusuf, said that N9.94 million would be used to improve the quality of healthcare and education services in the local government area.