Communique Issued at the End of Capacity Building Workshop on Public Hearing and Oversights for Committees in the Kogi House of Assembly and Civil Society Organizations Held at the Halims Hotels and Towers on Monday 3rd May 2010 in Lokoja, Kogi State Nigeria
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) with support from the Heinrich Boll Foundation organized a Capacity Building Workshop for legislators, committees’ staff of the Kogi House of Assembly, Civil Society Organizations and the media in Kogi State. The workshop was held at the Halims Hotel and Towers, Lokoja, KogiStateon 3rd May 2010. The meeting had participants comprising the target groups for the workshop.
During the course of the workshop, key papers were delivered on the ‘Importance of Public Hearing on Good Governance and Development’, ‘History and Practice of Legislative Oversight’ and ‘The Role of Civil Society Groups in Public Hearing and Oversight Functions’. The workshop provided a platform for interaction between members of the legislature, its bureaucracy and Civil Society. This was done with a view to improving the efficiency and effectiveness in the roles and responsibilities of the tripartite in the conduct of legislative business in the state. At the end of the discussion, the meeting had the following observations and recommendations.
- There is a near total lack of the needed infrastructure, tools and the technical capacity for effective work in the State House of Assembly and this has greatly undermined the proper functioning of the legislature and its bureaucracy in the state.
- The State legislators need to muster more political will to carry out their constitutional roles and responsibilities as this has greatly undermined the notion of good governance and the return on the dividends of democracy in the state.
- The people’s participation in the governance of the state through the legislature is missing. The nature of politics and elections in the state has continuously produced a crop of legislators who do not owe their allegiance to the electorates but to the political structure that produces them. This is evident on the exclusion of the people in governance processes.
- There is an emasculation of the legislature by the Executive Arm of the Government and this has inhibited the State House of Assembly ability to effectively carry out checks and balances on the Executive. Increasingly there is a dearth of opposition to the executive in the State House of assembly and an encroachment in the functions of the House.
- There is a wide gap in the relationship between the legislature and Civil Society in the state and this has undermined the ability of the CSOs to bring their technical expertise and experience in interfacing with the people to bear in the conduct of legislative business in the state.
- There are a very few number of CSOs engaging the legislative process in the state and they lack the requisite capacity to effectively impact on the processes in the legislature
- As a matter of urgency, the Executive should assent to the ‘State Assembly Service Commission’ and ‘The autonomous Self Accounting’ Bills. As the bills would help to professionalize the legislative bureaucracy.
- For the legislature to function effectively with a high degree of independence, there is need for first line charge funding for legislative activities in the state.
- There must be deliberate effort to evolve an all-inclusive democratic culture and process in the state. Internal democracy and credible elections must form the bases of democratic growth.
- The interaction between Civil Society and State House of Assembly should be enhanced to promote the CSOs’ input into legislative processes.
- There is a need for more capacity building for the legislators, Committee Secretaries, legislative Aides and CSOs in the state to improve their output and to function effectively.
In view of the above, participants thanked the organizers of the workshop and called for more interactive fora of this nature. It called on all other stakeholders to support such an initiative in the development and consolidation of our democracy. Participants called on the organizers to ensure that the communiqué reaches out to all the relevant stakeholders so as to consolidate on the gains of the workshop.
Honorable Ibrahim Yunusa Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani
Kogi State House of Assembly Executive Director (CISLAC)