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Transparency is important to good governance – Stakeholders

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Stakeholders across different sectors have stressed the importance of transparency to good governance.

The stakeholders spoke in separate interviews at the end of a three day retreat in Abuja.

The retreat was organised by the Agency for International Development(USAID) through its State Accountability, Transparency and Effectiveness (State2State) programme in collaboration with the Sokoto State Government.

The stakeholders noted that the retreat, which was centered on drawing an action plan for the state, noted that one of the ways for citizens to feel the impact of governance to ensure openness.

Mr Faruk Shehu, the Permanent Secretary, Sokoto State Universal Basic Education Board, said the education sector was one of the critical sectors benefiting from the collaboration between USAID and the state government.

“State2State is about accountability, transparency and sustainability. The partnership has started making impact as we see institutions being strengthened and this is helping to guarantee efficiency in governance.

“We are working with USAID to overcome some of the challenges we face in the education sector.

“Some of these challenges are out of schools children and insecurity. For instance some of our schools were closed because of attacks.

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“What we did was to factor ways to ensure adequate security around schools as well as ensure that school children who recently fell victim were relocated to areas where they will continue with their education,” he said.

Mr Aminu Dalhatu, Chairman, Sokoto State Internal Revenue Service, said that a transparent financial management system was also paramount to good governance.

He said that some financial laws had been passed into law in the state to ensure a transparent system.

According to him, when a government runs a transparent financial system, people will find it easier to pay tax.

He added that, “when the people know what their money is used for, they will be ready to be part of developmental strides.”

He stresses that “financing is very important for government to implement its activities.

“For us, there has been a radical change in the area of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). That is why from 2016 to 2020 there is astronomical rise in the revenue of the state.

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“It rose from a meagre N4.5 billion in 2015 to N19 billion in 2019.

“Government through its policies and programmes has been able to block leakages, deploy technology, cashless policy and many others.

“As we speak, a law came into effect since 2019 to raise revenue collection,” he said.

Dalhatu disclosed that government was also working to ensure realistic annual budgets that would impact the people positively.

Mr Ibrahim Suni, Sokoto State Chairman, Coalition of Non-Governmental Organisations(NGO), said with good governance, there was no substitute for transparency.

He said that the evidence of good governance was when the people benefited from the dividends of democracy in all sectors of the economy.

Speaking on the education sector, Suni said that it was the greatest investment anybody could make.

According to him, the assessment of NGOs in the state indicated that government had through its activities, made education a priority.

“When we talk about education in Sokoto State for instance, it is a priority area of the government. He once said, at the end of his tenure, we should judge him by what he did in education.

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“That was what led him to declare state of emergency in education.

“So, we can say government has for the past six years, made effort in different areas of education; basic, secondary and tertiary education,” he said.

While stating that recurrent expenditure was almost 100 per cent, he, however, added that “more needs to be done in the area of infrastructure.”

Mr Sidi Abbas, Executive Secretary, Sokoto State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASA), said water was critical to survival, stressing that it should be taken seriously.

“The state partnership with the U.S. is aimed at helping the state deliver on its mandate, particularly in the area of water.

“The essence is to ensure good governance and ensuring that we continue to strengthen the institutions and where we are weak, we will do more to deliver better.”

USAID, through its State2State activity, is partnering Sokoto and five other states on a five year project to promote transparency, accountability and effectiveness.

The other states benefitting from the project are Gombe, Ebonyi, Bauchi, Akwa Ibom, Adamawa.

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