CSO coalition undertakes project to promote citizens/legislative relationship

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By Friday Idachaba, Lokoja

A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has embarked on a six-month project in a joint action to promote the culture of citizens legislative relationship for effective legislation on critical issues.

Tagged as “Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Engagement Project”, the initiative aims to promote citizens-legislative relationship that will culminate in effective and efficient legislation on critical issues that affect the citizens.

Mr Hamza Aliyu, the Executive Director, Initiative for Grassroots Advancement (INGRA), disclosed this at a meeting of the stakeholders including Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Assembly Legislative Staff and the Media on Saturday in Lokoja.

Aliyu said that one of the objectives of the project was to foster a relationship that would provide a platform for interface between the citizens and their elected representatives to promote interaction.

He acknowledged that though the constitution provided for an enabling environment for such interactions between citizens and their elected representatives, issues around logistics and capacity of individual members had thwarted the implementation.

The project, according to him, targets increased access to information for citizens on governance in terms of issues around accountability and transparency in fiscal policies in the public sector, especially around budgeting.

He said that the project would within its six months lifespan, ensure increased access to information for citizens on governance in terms of issues around accountability and transparency in fiscal policies in the public sector, especially around budgeting.

“We want to establish a sustainable mechanism for advocacy for citizens’ inclusion in governance by establishing an advocacy cluster in Kogi State”, he said.

Aliyu pledged that the advocacy cluster would continue to engage the elected representatives even after the end of the project.

As part of the project’s objectives, the INGRA Executive Director said the CSOs would provide necessary support for the state House of Assembly to establish its website.

He said that there existed a wide information gap between the lawmakers and the citizens of the state as a result of the absence of such website, thereby promoting ignorance while making rumours and insinuations to fester.

“In terms of access to information, we are going to help the Assembly to look into issues around putting up a functional website where citizens can have access to information on what the assembly is doing.

“The bills, motions and resolutions that are being done at the assembly as well as the activities around governance generally in terms of screening of members of the executive and also issues around public accounts sector holding of government”, he added.

Aliyu hinted that the project would entail capacity building for citizens and elected legislators’ engagement through a two-day retreat with the House Members and Civil Society adding that constituency meetings would be conducted in each of the three Senatorial Districts of the state.

“We’re going to sponsor some citizens to attend the budget defense as we are going to provide a platform for citizens to take part in the annual ritual of budget defense at the State House of Assembly to enable make their contributions”, he added.