COMMUNIQUE RELEASED TO THE MEDIA AND STAKEHOLDERS AFTER TWO DAY ECONOMIC LITERACY AND BUDGET MONITORING TRAINING HELD BY CITIZENS CENTRE FOR INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT AND SOCIAL RIGHTS AT NEW EDGE INTERNATIONAL HOTEL IN UMUAHIA, ABIA STATE ON 15 AND 16 AUGUST, 2013
Nigeria democracy is still on trial as elected representatives are yet to meaningfully impact on majority of Nigerians since 1999. The application of Nigerians resources have titled towards fraud, waste and abuse. These have left the standard of living of Nigerians and residents in deplorable situation. After the two day intensive training of CSOs, media and community development leaders from the southeast region on deepening democracy through economic literacy and budget participation, over fifty eight participants representing different organizations observed as follows:
· That Nigerians are less aware that the political decision they make in electing their leaders or allowing politicians to seize power through rigging is also an economic decision that eventually determines the management of public resources which ultimately determines the living conditions of Nigerians.
· That Nigerians need to improve on their economic literacy and budget participation so that they can properly evaluate the way elected representatives manage public resources. This evaluation will basically enable them to take better political and economic decision in choosing their leaders in future elections as well as to prevent those who will attempt to impose themselves on the citizens through rigging and other types of political corruption
· That the standard of living of the household should be the center of analysis of any economic or political development facilitated by any elected representative or their appointees.
· That the growing level of corruption is becoming unbearable and the best way to stem the tide is for stakeholders to embark on conscious citizens economic literacy and budget participation awareness /capacity development so that citizens can be insulated from the current sophisticated political deceit employed by elected politicians to force a wrong development assumption on the suffering Nigerians
· Whereas the budgets of the three tiers of government are increasingly becoming exclusive to citizens, particularly in the southeast region, women are more affected due to the societal constructions that leave men with better budget participation and economic engagements.
· That if Nigerians understand the economic impact of giving power to a corrupt leader or a leader with zero knowledge of how to apply public resources, they will work hard to ensure that corrupt leaders don’t find their ways to positions of power and authority.
· That lack of accountability and openness that Nigeria has witnessed in the hands of elected representatives, since 1999, breeds more corruption and underdevelopment. That is the reason why elected representatives turn to mega millions during and after their stay in office despite their publicity of inadequate public resources for development.
· That the best way to resolve the unending economic challenges of citizens in a democracy is to empower citizens to hold their elected representatives accountable on how public resources have been used or why they have not been used.
· The high economic cost of Nigeria elected representatives has organic link with growing poverty in Nigeria. It is therefore the duty of the poor to use their economic literacy skills to reduce the cost of running government in Nigeria, by getting those who will use their resources efficiently.
· That elected representatives, particularly some governors in the southeast have deliberately hidden their budget from the people which makes citizens to be guessing and making wrong economic decisions
· That the poor implementation of budgets and fiscal indiscipline as well as citizens poor or partisan monitoring of project implementation at all levels of government fuels economic difficulty which the country is experiencing.
· That the assessment of the performance of governors in the southeast, by the minister of information who gave high score to almost all of them, is a direct insult to Citizens and mockery to democracy and people of Nigeria.
· That the southeast region is the lowest in terms of public spending since their annual budget has been the lowest among all the six regions in Nigeria. This means that with the presence of corruption by elected representatives from the southeast, the region has suffered more economic setback than other regions in Nigeria.
· The heart of democracy is on economic justice and participatory engagement of citizens to drive the economic development process. Where this system is relegated to the background, no economic success is realized.
· The more economic literacy and budget participation the better for Nigeria democracy because every dialogue and engagement with elected representatives as well as prospective seekers of peoples mandate will be based on quality issues and not on empty campaign or campaign of calumny.
· Government without citizens participation is private business at public expense
Based on the above observations, the participants resolved as follows:
1. To step up platform to demand accountability from all elected representatives and their appointees from southeast Nigeria
2. That their consideration of the performance of elected representatives and assessment of prospective public office seekers will be based on their economic skills, corruption free image and their knowledge on how to deploy citizens’ resources efficiently.
3. To strictly monitor the budget performance based on its impact on citizens and constantly monitor the budget implementation, particularly the capital component, and the implementation of economic policies for raise the standard of living of the poor.
4. To document outcome of project monitoring and disseminate such information to the wider public so that it will assist them in making future decisions while evaluating or voting their elected leaders.
5. To continuously educate community leaders on economic literacy and budget process as well as monitor the performance of elected representatives and their capacity to protect fundamental freedoms of citizens as well as their socio-economic rights
6. To continue monitoring the economic governance like elections are monitored and reported.
The participants finally called on the five state governors and all elected representatives from the southeast Nigeria to:
· Respect the fundamental rights of citizens by removing all economic and political encumbrances that prevents them from participating in political and economic decisions
· Respect the freedom of information Act by publishing and making available annual budget copies as well as annual state financial and audit reports. While Enugu and Anambra states have published their 2013 budgets, Abia, Imo and Ebonyi state, whose appropriation laws are hardly accessible, should hasten to publish and make them accessible.
· Deliberately encourage women to participate in all economic and budget decisions in such a way that they will become economically and politically empowered.
· Stop contributing to further plunging of southeast economy as it is already the slowest growing economy in Nigeria.
· Effectively implement annual budgets with high degree of transparency while they shun corruption which has been identified as higher in region more than other regions.
· Develop a mechanism of partnering with Civil Society Organizations to evaluate budget performance on a periodic basis
· Stop the act of self-glorification on budget performance while the economic situation of citizens continues to go down.
· Improve the production capacity of citizens of the southeast through investment in training in various production skills, equipment purchase, loan accessibility and safe production environment
The citizens, CSOs and community leaders were demanded to:
· Ensure that citizens obtain information to guide their leaders while they are in power
· Make effective use of freedom of Information Act which has been distributed widely in the zone
· Ensure that those to be elected in southeast are those who are not corrupt but has the credibility and capacity to change the economic fortunes of the southeast
· Treat election riggers like common robbers are treated and ensure that they are prevented from gaining access to power
The participants who promised to cascade the training to their respective communities and organizations requested CCIDESOR to make the training an annual event, while urging them to take the training round the entire country.
Emeka Ononamadu Barrister Kingsley Anidiobu
Executive Director State Coordinator/ Zonal Secretary
Citizens Centre for Integrated Development Zero Corruption Coalition, Enugu
and Social Rights – CCIDESOR
Hope Nkeiruka Eze Vivian
Executive Director Representatives of Students
Intacom, Awka Afikpo,
Anambra state Ebonyi state
Juliana A. Abazie Chigoziri Ojiaka
Women Leader Executive Director
Ekenobizi Development Union Gender and Child Rights Initiative
Umuahia South, Abia state Owerri, Imo state