By Okechukwu Onuegbu & Gabriel Chy Alonta
Stakeholders have called on the Anambra state ministry of justice to immediately amend the Public Procurement and the Fiscal Responsibility Laws to improve the fight against corruption and other criminalities in the state.
The call was made during a four-day implementation planning workshop for civil society organisations (CSOs) and the media on the Anambra State Anti-corruption Strategy (ANSACS-AP) and Justice Sector Reform Action Plan (ANSJSR-AP), in Awka, the state capital.
The workshop recommended, among others, full implementation of fiscal responsibility; public procurement and other related laws of the state; gazette of yet to be gazetted laws; mass production, simplification and translation of the laws into Igbo language for portability, accessibility and easy comprehension to all members of the society.
It also urged the state government to establish Public Procurement Council, Public Procurement Bureau, and Fiscal Responsibility Commission respectively for full operationalisation and implementation of the laws.
The event, organised by Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) in collaboration with Anambra State Government,funded by the European Union and managed by the British Council, had, in attendance, journalists and civil society members practising in the state, Orient Daily reports.
Presenting the recommendations reached at the workshop in a meeting with the state head of service, heads of departments and others, representatives of the media and civil society organisations, Mr. Alfred Ajayi, Mr. Ejimofor Umegbogu, Mr. Chris Azor and Ms Hope Okoye, listed some observations to be noted in sections 2, 10 (1d), 11 (12), 45 (5), 48 (1) of Fiscal Responsibility Law.
They further called on the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to ensure that the medium term sector strategy (MTSS) was in place and updated annually, as well to prepare medium term expenditure framework (MTEF), public launch and presentation of the Anambra State Anti-corruption Strategy (ANSAC) & Open Governance Principle (OGP) at the state level and 21 local government areas, continuation of sensitisation on the strategy and full compliance with Freedom of Information (FoI) Act.
The RoLAC resource person, Toyosi Giwa, had, in the opening remarks, explained that the workshop, which falls within the component four of RoLAC programmes, would help the media and civil societies to, not only engage the government, but also devise proper mechanism useful in reaching out to the citizenry for their feedback.
Another facilitator, Dr. Ada Ezeh, while explaining that citizen participation was important in eradicating corruption in Nigeria, listed some of the workshop objectives to include raising awareness on ANSACS plan, identification of priority actions and provision of platform for CSOs and media to outline strategy to implement priority actions.
Also, the state coordinator of RoLAC, Mrs. Josephine Onah, disclosed that the organisation was ready to complement their efforts should the state government provide it with perimeter fence and other necessary things so as to properly put it into use.
Responding, the Anambra State Head of Service, Barr Harry Udu, while commending RoLAC for the programme, assured that the relevant laws would be reviewed, even as he urged cooperation of the media, CSOs and the government in exposing and fighting crime in the state.
In their separate speeches, representative of Anambra State Judiciary, Ukamaka Ufodiama, assured the cooperation of the courts in the review and administration of justice while Comrade Leonard Imoka, a permanent secretary in the Anambra state ministry of economic planning, budgeting and development partners, advised MDAs to fully implement the laws. Also, Barr. Nwando Obiano of the office of the head of service, stressed the need for the groups to seek audience with the state executive arm for speedy actions on the recommendations.