COMMUNIQUÉ OF CSO WORKSHOP IN BAYELSA STATE
The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), in collaboration with Bayelsa Non-governmetal Organisations Forum (BANGOF), convened a 2-day workshop for Civil Society Organisations in Bayelsa State, from the 17thth – 18th June, 2014, at Celebrity Hotels, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. The workshop which focused on Participatory Budgeting and Data Driven Campaign was held in pursuance of the “Strengthening Oil Revenue Management in Niger Delta Project Phase 2” which ANEEJ is currently implementing with support from the Royal Norwegian Embassy. Over 20 participants were in attendance drawn from Non-governmental Organisations, Resource Persons and the Media.
Participants at the workshop observed as follows:
• Commended Bayelsa State Government on the monthly transparency briefing but noted that majority of Bayelsans are excluded from participating in the briefing and many of the participants are denied the opportunity to ask questions and make contributions.
• That Bayelsa State government is not effective collaborating with civil society organizations and local communities in budget processes, particularly in budget preparation and monitoring.
• That some civil society organizations have weak capacity and low interest in budget monitoring and tracking, this has made it difficult for them to hold government to account on budget implementation.
• That members of Bayelsa State House of Assembly need to do more as part of their oversight role on the executive in area of budget implementation.
In view of the above observations, participants resolved as follows:
• Appeal to Bayelsa State government to go beyond the monthly transparency briefing and engage the people in regular town hall meetings to open the space for the participation of more people in the governance process of Bayelsa State.
• Call on the Bayelsa State Government to step up their level of collaboration with Civil Society Organisations and local communities in budget process particularly in budget preparation and monitoring, to ensure that such segment of the people are always carried along in government activities.
• Call on CSOs in Bayelsa State to take interest in budget process and improve their capacity in budget monitoring and tracking so as to be able to hold government to account in terms of budget implementation.
• Urged the people’s representatives at the State House of Assembly to ensure that proper consultation is carried out such that the people’s needs are duly assessed and incorporated into government planning process.
• Urged the honourable members of Bayelsa State House of Assembly to step up their level of oversight on the executive to ensure that the budge is implemented to acceptable level and also for proper checks and balances.
Participants at the end of the workshop appreciated the Royal Norwegian Embassy, ANEEJ and BANGOF for providing the platform for selected CSOs to benefit from such an important workshop to prepare them for effective engagement with the government.
Chairman, Bayelsa Non-governmental Organisations Forum (BANGOF)
Princes Elizerbeth Egbe,
Executive Director, Operation Rescue (OPER), Yenagoa
Policy Officer, Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ)