State and Non State Actors in the South East have endorsed Participatory Governance as one of the strategies that should be deployed to address the current development deficits in the zone. This decision was reached at the recently concluded South East States Experience Sharing on Participatory Governance Process Forum organized by the Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL) programme of the UK Department for International Development (DfID) in collaboration with the African Heritage Institution. The event which was organized in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State drew participants from the civil society, town unions, ministries, departments and agencies in the five states in the zone.
The Forum agreed that in Participatory Governance, “Constituencies become increasingly effective at influencing governments on selected service delivery and policy issues for the benefit of increasing number of Nigerians.”
Guided by the above agreement, the workshop argued for a broadening of effective governance practices in the South East through experience sharing and strategic communications towards effective service delivery.
A major lesson of the four-day Forum was that Anambra and Enugu states have fully integrated Participatory Governance, especially in relation to Participatory Budgeting into every aspect of government activity and provided documented evidence to prove that they have keyed into the universally accepted notion of “budgeting (and by extension governing ) as if the people mattered“ by seeking the opinion and getting the inputs of critical non state actors in its governance processes.
State actors from Anambra disclosed that before 2006, only the ministries, departments and agencies in the state along with the legislature and the State Executive Council participated in the budget process. The situation changed in 2007 when the administration of Peter Obi started organizing the annual Participatory Budget Forum where non state actors were invited. At present other participatory budget strategies in operation in the state include Community Charter of Demand (CCD) and Community Based Monitors (CBM).
In Enugu State, the conviction that government machinery must leave the comfort of their offices and go back to the people to inquire about their needs the same way those in government went to the people to demand for their votes informed the adoption of the Visit Every Community (VEC) development blue by the administration Governor Sullivan Chime in 2008. VEC was reviewed by the present administration in March 2016 and applauded by stakeholders including non state actors and development partners as an effective development strategy. The government then proceeded to institutionalize it by creating a directorate for it in the Governor’s office. It now plans to enact a law to legalize the VEC Initiative.