By Angela Atabor
The Speaker, Yobe House of Assembly, Ahmed Lawan, has said that the assembly is committed to open governance and transparency to enable residents reap the dividends of democracy.
Lawan made this known in Abuja at a roundtable organised by Connected Development (CODE) under its Open Parley Nigeria project.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the open parley was organised to discuss accountability and transparency at the sub-national level.
According to Lawan, the assembly knows that to get people more involved and understand the legislative process and procedure, citizens are expected to come closer to their legislatures.
“However, that cannot happen if people don’t attend House proceedings and acquaint themselves with the oversight procedures necessary for them to support the implementation of government policies and programmes.
“It is worth mentioning here that to ensure transparency, the House of Assembly has one of the oldest Civil Society Organizations Liaison Desk Office in the Country, which cushions and simplifies citizens engagement with their representative legislatures.
“This has helped tremendously by bringing Members of the House closer to their respective constituents, creating citizens and legislature mutual relationship.”
Lawan said that in spite of these numerous reforms, the House was worried with citizens weak understanding of the role of Legislature and constructive engagement for development.
He said with CODE’s intervention and support, the trend would be changed for better to a good synergy between citizens and the legislature leading to the needed implementation of budget and government policies for good governance.
He added that the collaboration between the House and CODE was apt as it would help the state consolidate democratic dividends, having been hit by insurgency for 11 years now.
This, he said, would bridge the gap between legislators and citizens and help in terms of deepening the relationship of the parliament with the people.
Mr Hamzat Lawal, Chief Executive of Connected Development (CODE), said that CODE is engaging lawmakers at the sub-national level in four states – Oyo, Kwara, Kaduna and Yobe.
Lawal said that the aim is to entrench citizens participation and democratic principles as a strong pillar on the separation of power and non-interference of the Executive or Judiciary arms of government.
“The aim is to increase citizen awareness on parliamentary functions, proceedings, and open government benefits.
The roundtable will serve as a platform to build capacity of lawmakers to engage citizens and community-based organisations as well as create avenues where communities can begin to track, monitor and document state house assembly performances.”
Lawal said that the session would also serve as a precursor to kick-start conversations around developing an autonomous legislative arm of the government that is equally accountable to the people.
According to him,Yobe is an important state in the Northeast and the State house of Assembly had done so much, particularly in the open budget processes.
“We believe that we can scale and build on that, the lawmakers always go back to their constituencies and host a lot of town hall meetings, engaging their constituents.
“We want to be able to accelerate and scale on that, whereby we would ensure that as plenaries are ongoing, we use traditional means and even technology to amplify what is happening .”
Lawal said that this is to enable residents participate and also send feedback from their various constituencies and ensure that the laws being passed are citizen-friendly.
He said that the two groups would sign a memorandum of understanding on open parliament project and build the capacity of the lawmakers as well.
He said this would also provide them with the tools to be able to respond to the demands of citizens and ensure that they play their roles as legislators as expected. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
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By Angela Atabor