Mr. Toyin Oshaniwa is the coordinator Policy Advocacy Partnership on Climate Change (PAPCC) an Advocacy Partner (AP) of State Accountability and Voice Initiative (SAVI) He spoke at an international workshop with the British High Commissioner in attendance where issue on climate change and alternative energy for Lagos was brought into focus.
The partnership is working to assist government come up with a framework on alternative energy and climate change, how are you going about it?
In recent time we have assisted government in developing frameworks that will help produce robust climate change policy in the state.
Recently we organised a workshop with the participation of the British High Commission where the UK government affirmed its determination to work with the state government to generate energy from renewable sources and to make better use of renewable resources to reduce human impact on climate change.
During the workshop the High Commission affirmed its determination to work in collaboration with the Civil Society Organisations to support initiatives of the country to harness its huge gas deposits for electricity generations and other effective uses than constantly flaring it and causing more harm to the environment.
So we are also supporting the Lagos government on energy conservation and solar energy initiatives to free up energy from the national grid and to build expertise on renewable energy to achieve better energy mix and it is laudable that some British companies are committed to set up small power stations to use flared gas for electricity generation.
Lagos state says it is freeing some its institutions from the grid network, hwo would this bring about the desired development?
If you look at the CSO partnership with the state there is affirmative action on proper budget monitoring and implementation and the ten point agenda of the state which tilts toward developing the energy sector to help drive development across other critical sectors of the economy.
This is one of the major fundamentals and our involvement to ensure all funds appropriated for that purpose is judiciously utilised for the benefit of the people.
Over time this sort of cooperation has not happened and we need to build on this synergy to achieve the expected results>
What has been the major issue with lack of the adoption of inclusive government?
In December 1966, the International Convention On Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly and on June 1993, the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna affirms that ‘Extreme Poverty and Social Exclusion constitute a violation of human dignity and urgent steps are necessary to put an end to them and to promote the enjoyment of fruits of social progress.
Thus it became essential for states to foster participation by the poorest people in the decision-making process by the community in which they live, the promotion of human rights and the efforts to combat extreme poverty.
This, plus the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and the Political Rights of 1966 form an integral part of the International Bill of Human Rights.
The modern Nigerian state which came into being in 1914, has witnessed her own thick and thin, and one of the major challenges in the country which has equally brought great conflict and social catastrophe is the lack of citizen participation in the affairs of the state especially as regards governance and public expenditure.
SAVI has been working with numerous Civil Society Partnerships to encourage inclusive governance in the South West, what has been the outcome of this exercise?
Specifically speaking I believe that It was in view of the above anomalies and the critical socio-economic challenges facing the Lagos state that the Lagos Civil Society Partnership (LACSOP) with huge support from PACC which has actually identified the major devastating economic effect caused by the climate change initiated steps to engage both the Executive Arm and the Lagos state Legislature on the need to actively involve the citizens in the entire process of budget formulation, debate and implementation.
We believed that such involvement would usher a new era of development, reduce tension and improve on welfare of the people by addressing climate change phenomenon.
The Partnership believes also that every government must accept the fact that citizens have the right to know how public finances are administered and that by denying citizens participation in decision making the government is only setting the process for abrasion, public mistrust, social unrests and political upheavals.
You will agree with me that isolationist to deny the people the right to participate in the budget process if you go through history has led to sombre distrust and even conflicts, in the cause of the development of human civilisation. Naturally most leaders do not want to be questioned, preferring a one dimensional society and this has not helped sustainable human development.
The lack of citizenship participation has brought calamities to our societies, in different forms and content. In our ancient societies, either in Europe, Asia or Africa, it was the wish of the leaders never to be questioned or tasked on how they administer public finances and the public trust in their custody.
I am very happy that Lagos state has admitted these phenomenal approaches by the partnership and decisively opened itself to public scrutiny by entrenching Civil Society component in its budget processes.
So what are we expecting perhaps in terms of development from 2014?
I am happy to state that the State Accountability and Voice Initiative (SAVI) a good governance project of the Department for International Development (DFID) LACSOP with its partners submitted a proposal to the state government for effective training and proper knowledge sharing on how the proposal for effective development and partnership would work.
Several workshops have been held for those charged with the responsibility of preparing the budget, to ensure citizens input is obtained, and the House of Assembly to invite CSO’S to its plenary sessions during budget debate to also make input and finally the Ministries, Departments and Agencies during implementation proper to allow full participation of the CSO’s to ensure money budgeted is appropriately utilised.
Infact, the Lagos state has become a role model when the Executive arm under this initiative further innovated a broader tripartite arrangement involving the Executive, Legislature and the Civil Society Organisations in the entire budget preparation, debate in the House of Assembly and Implementation.
During one the workshops to further strengthen the synergy, the Lagos state government admitted facing huge development gap and facing serious challenges that has further impoverished the citizens.
The workshop which was supported by SAVI provided the executive the opportunity to explain to the state members of the House of Assembly initiatives of the government to achieve prudence, transparency and accountability in budget implementation and the role of the CSO’s and the Legislature toward achieving objectives of the new vision.
The government admitted among other things the issue of resource Inadequacy and Prevalent poverty and Socio-Economic Problems
Also huge Infrastructural Gap, High Crime rate, High Unemployment and Inadequate Institutional Capabilities as well as Influx from Neighbouring States/Countries have hampered progress and agenda of growth set by the state.
So how is this going to address under-development which have been identified here?
Well, with the new partnership energising new innovations the state government has came up with an agenda aimed at Making Lagos State Africa’s model Megacity and Global Economic and Financial Hub that is safe, secure, functional and productive.
The mission of the new order aims at Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Economic Growth Through Infrastructure Renewal and Development.
To achieve this, the government also set an agenda for itself which will be pursued in collaboration with the CSO’s fittingly regarded as agents of change.
So what are the elements of change in this whole arrangement?
Well, Under the Ten Point Agenda (TPA) the government is set to commit energy in pursuing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and meticulously give priority to the Lagos State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (LASEEDS) and provide platform for successful implementation of the Resolutions of Lagos Economic Summit (Ehingbeti).
Also the Introduction of State Development Plan aims at Consolidating all High Policy Documents(TPA, MDG, LASEEDs, etc) and providing overall direction for the growth and development of the State as well as growing state gross domestic product (SGDP) to double digit by 2020 from 7.5 percent currently
Both the State Legislature and the CSO’s are expected to key into the Planning Framework under the Lagos State Development Plan 2012-2025
The executive has listed key sector growth through prudent budget implementation and effective monitoring to achieve economic advancement.
Government identified as economic pillars to drive the process as, Manufacturing, Service Industry, Construction (Especially housing), Agric Infrastructure Sector, Transportation and Power.
Others are, Water, Telecommunications Social Sector, Education, Health, Social Development, Security and Justice, Sustainable Environment, Drainage and Flood Control Waste Management as well as Sanitation, Pollution Control and Climate Change
Broad Strategy For the Change Agenda will adequately identify Efficient allocation of resources across sectors, Tighter operating expenditure control, Quarterly review of budget performance and a More effective Project Monitoring.
The government has also provided that under Capital expenditure and Recurrent expenditure ratio will be 60:40, Replacing the 4-Sector Budget Classification with International Standard 9 Sector Classification, Percentages allocated to Sectors reflect Government priorities and sustenance of past trend.
In the new regime the highest priority goes to Economic Affairs Sector in line with policy thrust of Government while Health and Education Sectors are being gradually notched up to meet international benchmarks Budget performance target set at 90 percent.
I want to place on record that the Lagos state government is ideally keying into the new world order. From the 21st century the world came into the conclusion that governance can no longer be the exclusive preserve of a few, to the detriment of the majority of the people. This notion increased the growth of several political and social configurations across the world and there have been various efforts to give legal backing to this noble idea.
Let me also add that citizen’s participation in governance and budget process begins with the opportunity for the people to elect credible, transparent leaders that come to power through free and fair elections, not through coercion, harassment of the electorate.
For citizens partaking in governance, including involvement in budget process, Nigeria and indeed every state of the federation must lay the solid foundation for pluralism, fair, free and credible elections given her beleaguered history to be able to ensure citizenship participation in governance.