ActionAid Nigeria (AAN) and its Danish counterpart – ActionAid Denmark (AADK), Global Platform and Activista Nigeria, are collaborating to implement Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) II, which is being implemented in Akwa Ibom; Borno; Enugu, and Lagos states including the Federal Capital Territory Abuja.
It was learnt that one of the avenues to enhancing citizens’ active involvement in governance processes is awareness creation on government policies and politics through training/sensitizations.
They maintained that as the range of factual information about politics is stored in the memory, political knowledge provides citizens with knowledge about policies, polity, and politics which is believed to enable and encourage citizens to participate in governance processes.
The AAN explained that political knowledge contributes to more stable and consistent political attitudes, promotes support for democratic values as well as motivates political participation.
“Any society whose citizens are actively involved in governance processes will naturally have a transparent and accountable government because citizens will ask the right questions. As a result, public finance will be accounted for and public services provided adequately.
“Public finance being the study of income and expenditure of government entities that deal solely with the finance of the government is a very critical aspect of governance, as it involves how government receives and spends public funds.
“Tax and Budget are aspects of public finance. Whereas tax relates to the collection of funds, budget involves the allocation of funds between various branches of government. Public finance (Budget and Tax) is a contrivance used for the provision of public services.
“Public services have the potential to create more equal societies, it is an important route to better lives for the marginalized and people living in poverty. Public services should meet the needs and priorities of people based on gender, age, disability, geography, and social context.
“Where public services are not gender-responsive, the burdens of existence increase, and the poor and marginalized face a major barrier to enjoying their rights; societies become unjust.
“Strategic objective one of the SPA II projects states that young people, especially young women and those facing marginalisation or fragility, enjoy their rights to open and enabling democratic space and access to well-resourced programmes and public services. It is pertinent to note that public services in Akwa Ibom state are not youth-friendly, gender-responsive, and socially inclusive,” the AAN said.
It was learnt that, for young Akwa Ibomites, factors such as skills gaps, limited economic opportunities, and restrictive and discriminatory economic policies, have served a toxic mix of high unemployment, loss of livelihood, and despondency, causing poverty for young people and particularly young rural women.
Elkanah Oluyori, Clement Isong Foundation, said there is a need for young people to be trained in public finance to be able to hold the government accountable and advocate for gender-responsive public services in the state.
“Bearing this in mind, Clement Isong Foundation (CIF) wishes to build the capacity of SPA II project beneficiaries in Akwa Ibom State on Policies/Political Education, Public Finance, and Gender Responsive Public Service. This will empower them with the necessary skills, tools, and knowledge on budget, tax, policies, politics, and GRPS.
“The training will deepen young peoples’ understanding of public finance and the budget process; the tools/platforms for budget analysis and expenditure tracking, the role of citizens in the budget-making process, HRBA budgeting, as well as Tax Justice.
“It will also provide a platform for young people to network; build/strengthen relationships for advocacy and policy influencing geared towards achieving an open and enabling democratic space and access to well-resourced programmes and gender-responsive public services,” Elkanah said.
Elkanah assured that young people will utilize the knowledge to initiate actions to improve their livelihoods, especially the young women, through GRPS.