1-3 June, 2011, Asaba, Delta State Nigeria. The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) Nigeria Office in collaboration with Delta State of Nigeria Government has recently organized a three-day training program on Participatory Budgeting and Revenue Generation in Asaba, Delta State. The workshop arose out of the need to include citizenry and stakeholder participation in effectively deciding what projects are priorities to their communities on one hand and the need to generate adequate funds to execute projects to promote sustainable development in the Niger Delta Region on the other hand.
The Director of Overseas Development Agencies (ODA), Ministry of Economic Planning, Delta State, Mrs I.P Ogbewe in her opening remarks emphasized that the workshop was important to improve the relevant processes and tools that will engender sustainable economic growth as well as encourage ‘citizen participation’ with respect to grassroots development.
The workshop was facilitated by Municipal Development Partnership/ Eastern and Southern Africa and it help government officials understand their roles as drivers and development agents in the bid to bring about meaningful grassroots development for effective service delivery. It also aided the participants to understand the principles of participatory budgeting and revenue generation as a mechanism that allows for direct citizen participation in the allocation of local councils financial resources. Participants studied the theoretical undertones of PB& RG, its legal (regulatory) framework as well as its practical implementation. Its impact was discussed from selected case studies across the African continent as well as its successes and challenges. The facilitators brought real life knowledge and skills necessary for 21st century leaders to the table and conducted the session with interactive approaches.
The first two days of training covered the risks, challenges as well as Legal & Regulatory Framework & Fiscal Decentralisation for PB& RG and the challenges of Local Government financing. MDP facilitator George Matovu gave an introduction to the concept of PB& RG and how it is implemented. He pointed out the challenges as well as the advantages and mitigation measures of adopting the system. The facilitators succeeded in equipping state/ Local government officials with the relevant processes and tools that will encourage citizen participation at grassroots level thereby deepening local democracy and develop the skills that will enable them harness the abundant resources at their disposal.
A participatory approach of learning was adopted throughout the workshop giving participants the opportunity to air their views. Representatives from various local governments gave insights on how they thought PB & RG would be effectively included into the system of administration and governance. The facilitators also used interactive stimulation exercises, group exercises and real life scenarios of PB &RG of other African countries incorporating Power Point Presentations, flip charts throughout the duration of the workshop.
The programme was attended by participants from various Local Government, Ministries, Directorates and Government agencies. At the end of the workshop, participants indicated that the workshop was very comprehensive, practical, interactive and useful to their jobs and were encouraged to share the information learnt with their associates. In that regard and for their practice, were given resource materials and copies of power point presentation of training provided to take home.