Governor Biodun Oyebanji of Ekiti State has assured the people of the State that the 2023 budget will give adequate consideration for their basic needs while targeting all round development of the state.

The governor also said that the recently launched 30 years development plan of the State would be his working document.

Governor Oyebanji conveyed this information on Friday during citizens’ engagement meetings across the state’s three senatorial districts, a crucial step in the preparation for the 2023 budget. He emphasized that these town hall meetings, initiated during the first administration of former Governor Kayode Fayemi, have become an “annual ritual” to facilitate community involvement in the budgetary process.

The town hall meetings, held in Ikole (North senatorial district), Ode (South senatorial district), and Ado-Ekiti (Central), witnessed the participation of key government officials, State and National Assembly members, council chairmen, traditional rulers, market women, artisans, and other stakeholders. These sessions served as platforms for receiving suggestions and proposals from various communities regarding projects they wish the government to incorporate in the 2023 budget.

Oyebanji at the meetings told the people that his administration was irrevocably committed to participatory and all-inclusive government and budgeting, adding that the purpose of the meeting was to interact with the representatives of various towns and communities to articulate their needs for inclusion in the 2023 budget.

The Governor, who noted that the requests of all the communities are similar, said his administration would address their concern about security. He also challenged them on the need to assist the security agencies in intelligence gathering by coming up with relevant information of suspicious movements or activities to enable them track down people with criminal tendencies.

“We should all be vigilant about what happens in our society. I agree we should step up our action on Amotekun and strengthen the security outfit, but Amotekun without intelligence is zero. He said.

Governor Oyebanji who noted that the various concerns of the people including electricity supply, potable water, rehabilitation of roads, renovation of schools building and others assured the people that the administration is already making efforts with relevant authorities to ensure that electricity supply is restored in some areas that have been without power supply for years.

On his effort to strengthen the feedback mechanism from the people, the Governor said his administration would establish an Ombudsman office where the people can supply government with useful information that would guide government in its decision-making process.
On road rehabilitation, the Governor assured the people that the RAAMP 1000km rural road project is still in the pipeline and would commence immediately after the rainy season. He explained that all rural roads fall under the purview of the programme, which is in partnership with the World Bank.

While assuring Ekiti people that his administration would fulfil his electoral promise of bringing more development to the grassroots, Oyebanji appealed for their support to enable him achieve the lofty goals.

“All the requests made by all the communities are related and what we will do is to prioritize your requests because what is paramount in the heart of one community is different from that of the other community. The reason we are doing this is because the government belongs to you and you know your basic needs even though government may not be able to do all, but we would address the basic ones.

“As a responsible government, we are of the firm belief that citizens’ participation in budgeting process enables ownership and efficient service delivery. It also gives meaning to the popular definition of democracy by Abraham Lincoln which describes democracy “as government of the people by the people and for the people”. For us, we want to govern with the people and not for them. You will always be part of our decision making and your voice will always be heard.

“This meeting is not only a personal commitment to participatory budgeting, it is also in conformity with the global best practices in budgeting. It is also one of the indicatory mileage of accountability requirements of the tripartite programme called: State Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme.

“Our annual Budget preparation process shall be bottom-up, whereby the needs and interest of the people shall be articulated. The involvement of the citizens in the Budget preparation is geared towards effective utilization of public funds based on the needs of the people. He noted.

Representatives from the communities, including traditional rulers and community leaders, not only presented their specific demands but also commended the Governor for maintaining the citizens’ engagement program, which is designed to enhance effective budgeting.

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