Stakeholders decry non-inclusion of citizenry in Bayelsa budget

Stakeholders have rapped the Bayelsa State government for not involving the people in its budget processes to justify claims of operating transparent governance in the state.

They observed that the annual budgets of the state, even under the present administration in the state, have not had the peoples’ inputs in the budgeting processes.

Their position was contained in a communique issued after a two-day town hall meeting on “Public Hearing as a Tool for Promoting Citizen’s Participation in the Budget and Governance Process in Bayelsa State”, organised in Yenagoa by a non-governmental organisation, Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), and Bayelsa Non-Governmental Organisations Forum (BANGOF).

The communique was signed by leader of the Ogbia Women Assembly (OWA), Mrs. Freeman President, Chairman of BANGOF, Torki Dauseye and the Policy Officer of ANEEJ, Innocent Edemhanria.

The stakeholders, who were drawn from community leaders, women organisations, civil society groups, youth groups and the media, pointed out that majority of the citizens were not allowed to ask questions at the monthly transparency briefing of the government.

They complained that the state House of Assembly had not been effective in its oversight functions, stressing that this had hampered budget implementation.

They urged the people of Bayelsa State to develop interest in government activities to enable them follow up on such activities and demand accountability from government.

The communique read in part: “Participants expressed concern over the non-inclusion of the citizens in the processes and complained seriously that they are not being consulted at the budget planning stage and as such the government has not carried them along.

“Participants as well noted that majority of the people are docile and therefore unable to hold government accountable in the delivery of basic services.

“Participants noted that the oversight function of the State House of Assembly has not been effective and this has hampered proper budget implementation in the state.

“Participants urged Bayelsa State government to sustain the monthly transparency briefing and be more inclusive in the invitation of participants as well as give more people the opportunity to ask questions.

“Appealed to Bayelsa State government to ensure that the people are carried along or consulted in the budget planning stage and other government activities to enhance their participation.

“They urged the honourable members of Bayelsa State House of Assembly to ensure that they do more with respect to their oversight function on the executive to ensure that the budget is implemented to acceptable level and also for proper checks and balances.