Communique Issued at the End of One Day Capacity Building Workshop on Public Hearing and Oversights for Committees in the Benue State House of Assembly and Civil Society Organisations Held at the Benue Hotels on Monday 7th June 2010 in Makurdi Benue State Nigeria.
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) with support from the Heinrich Boll Foundation organized a One day capacity building workshop for members and staff of the committees of the Benue State House of Assembly and Civil Society in the State. The workshop was held at the Benue Hotel, Makurdi Benue State on 7th June 2010. The meeting had 36 participants comprising the target groups for the workshop and media representatives.
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 is part of the CISLACs initiative to build the capacity and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of State legislatures while providing a platform for interaction between members of the legislature, the bureaucracy of the legislature and Civil Society. At the end of the discussion, the meeting had the following observations and recommendations;
- There are inadequate structures, tools and the technical capacity for effective work in the State House of Assembly.
- The people’s participation in the governance process especially through the legislature is low.
- There is a wide gap in the relationship between the legislature and Civil Society in the State. This has undermined the ability of the legislature to take advantage and have the input of the extensive work CSOs have done on issues of public importance in law making.
- The state legislature should muster the desired political will to carry out its constitutional roles and responsibility to guarantee transparency and accountability in the conduct of government business, while there is a need for first line charge funding for legislative activities in the state to guarantee its financial autonomy.
- Civil Society should advocate for the speedy passage of the ‘State Assembly Service Commission’ and ‘the Self Accounting’ Bills into law, as the laws would help to professionalize the legislative bureaucracy and make the legislature more effective in the state.
- As the repository of institutional memory in the legislature, the bureaucrats in the legislature should endeavour to set the agenda when it comes to rules and procedure of the state legislature for consistency and effective law making.
- There should be pro-active measures to provide a CSO liaison office in the legislature to facilitate a cordial relationship between CSOs and the legislature.
- There is need for more capacity building for the legislators, Committee Secretaries, legislative Aides and the CSOs to improve their output to function more effectively.
Participants thanked CISLAC and Heinrich Boll Foundation for the initiative as the process would serve to further strengthen the growth and consolidation of democracy in the state in particular and in the country in general.
AUWAL IBRAHIM MUSA (RAFSANJANI)
Executive Director, CISLAC
Benue State House of Assembly