Edo State Head of Service Anthony Okungbowa Esq has expressed the commitment of the State government to partner agencies/organizations engaged in the promotion of tenets of accountability in governance.

The Head of Service stated this when he received members of the Civil Society/Media Coalition on Anti-corruption on an advocacy visit towards the adoption and implementation of the Edo State Integrity and Accountability Strategy (EDSIAS) policy document soon to be presented at the State Executive Council meeting by the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of the State.

Okungbowa said government would be favourably disposed to adopting the EDSIAS because, it would further enhance the e-governance and other governance structures already put in place that promote transparency, integrity and accountability in the system.

He commended members of the CSO/MEDIA Coalition for what he called their selfless advocacy aimed at creating necessary awareness among citizens and state actors on the benefits of openness and accountability in governance.

The charge for accountability in government the HOS noted became much more timely in the face of dwindling oil revenues that has compelled government to turn to the citizens for taxes.

“Revenues from oil has dwindled significantly oweing to losses incurred on the crude production chain thereby making it impossible for the country to meet its OPEC quota; and for whatever reason, our crude is no longer in high demand. The NNPC is increasingly finding it difficult to bring something to the table to share among the national and sub-national governments.

“Therefore, it has become compelling to look inwards, which means taxing the people. And when you do that the people unlike their previous attitude towards the manner government’s resources were used, will ask questions and demand to know how you spend their taxes and you are under obligation to explain to them.

“We cannot thank you enough for championing this cause towards achieving probity and accountability in governance. The government can’t do it all alone. It needs the support of agencies like yours to achieve it”, the Head of Service added.

He assured of the willingness of the government to partner agencies with similar goals with a view to achieving its objective of having an inclusive and accountable government that works for the citizens.

The HOS advised that since the EDSIAS document is domiciled in the Ministry of Justice and is being driven by the Ministry, much of the campaigns/advocacy should be focused there-in so that it hastens to present it before the State Exco meeting.

He stressed that members of the Exco would not have difficulty in pushing for its adoption and subsequent implementation since it is in line with what the Obaseki’s administration is focused on.

He assured that once the Exco gives its approved, creating EDSIAS Implementation Units in MDA and funding budget lines would not be an issue, explaining that it would be a matter of making some structural adjustments to accommodate them.

He adised that efforts should be intensified at concluding the processes of adopting the EDSIAS by November 2022 which would make it a lot easier for its initial funding to be included in the 2023 budget.

The CSO/Media team led by Dr Bright Oniovokukur had earlier presented some requests before the HOS to elicit his support for the adoption of the EDSIAS policy document; establishment of EDSIAS Implementation Units in all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as his support for provision of budget and funding lines in the MDAs to support EDSIAS activities when established.