12 October 2017

Nigeria: HDI Tasks Stakeholders On Budget Tracking in Education, SDGs

Abuja — The Human Development Initiatives (HDI) have tasked stakeholders to expedite action in monitoring and tracking public expenditure and budgetary allocations on education.

According to the organisation, only efficient and judicious use of public funds will guarantee the actualisation of the education-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

HDI Executive Director, Mrs. Olufunso Owasanoye stated this at a two-day workshop on Training on Advocacy and Policy Engagement, Budget Tracking and Universal Basic Education (UBE) Action Plan Implementation, held in Abuja recently.

She said, "The purpose is to engage policy makers so that there will be positive change in education better than what we have. So that when they are equipped and they are well knowledgeable, they will be able to approach authorities and demand accountability."

Owasanoye charged stakeholders to "build a cordial relationship with critical stakeholders" to assist in "strengthening existing structures."

She maintained that "the foundation of education in the country must be solid; it involves funds, some states will be telling you we don't have money.

"This advocacy, sensitisation, will make them realise the need to track all budgetary allocations on education," Owasanoye stressed.

Keynote speaker at the workshop, Mr. James Fadokun explained that there was need for an "independent, very objective, very impartial, non-political kind of feedback" in tracking funding and UBE action plan implementation.

Fadokun argued that with such strategy, "the community will be able to have confidence in whatever government is showing to the public through what we called public expenditure tracking survey and community scorecard and citizens' scorecard.

"Through this, the public will be able to ascertain the usefulness, the appropriateness of the funding government is providing to the states UBEB".

Fadokun added that "right from the beginning to the end of the whole process, CSOs should be involved, because they are important stakeholders.

"And from the CSOs-government partnership, which is a kind of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of government accepting that CSOs can also help it to have good governance, I think they have the enabling environment to make this appropriately.

"So the enabling environment is there, so they can take that advantage and create that space for them to ensure that they are able to get involved in doing a lot of advocacy in education, UBEB, States Houses of Assembly, and the National Assembly. So the road is opened," he maintained.

Meanwhile, at least 26 Federal and State tertiary educational institutions in the North-west geo-political zone of the country have benefited from the ongoing sensitisation and awareness exercise being carried out by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).

The exercise which is for all the beneficiary institutions of the Fund was in line with the determination of the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Dr. Abdullahi Bichi Baffa towards ensuring that all processes for the agency's interventions are made open and known to all stakeholders.

Baffa, who led his team to the states in North-West as the fourth geo-political zone to be visited, told participants at the various campuses of the institutions visited that the seminar became necessary to get rid of all the encumbrances encountered in accessing intervention allocations from TETFund.

Noting that some of the encumbrances are as a result of lack of information, distorted or outright wrong information and unnecessary ambiguity created by some desk officers and staff of beneficiary institutions, Baffa said the seminar would make all processes open to all stakeholders in the various academic communities.

The TETFund boss insisted that his management was committed to ensuring beneficiaries adhere strictly to the established guidelines and procedures for smooth running of the TETFund operations necessary for maximum impact.

He explained that the seminar was not only to clear grey areas through a detailed presentation of all the requirements for each of the intervention lines but also to enhance a more cordial and effective collaboration between the beneficiaries and management of the Fund.

Papers presented at the seminar were from the Project Monitoring Department, Department of Monitoring and Evaluation, Department of Academic Staff Training and Development (AST&D), Department of Education Support Services and the Internal Audit Unit (IAU).

Meanwhile, the exercise, which has already taken place in the North-Central, South-West, South-South geo-political zones before now, is in continuation of the promise by Baffa to ensure that beneficiary institutions take control of the interventions of TETFund through giving them first-hand information and making everything transparent.

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