In a bid to bridge the gap between youth and the legislative arm of government in Jigawa state, the Organization for Community Civic Engagement (OCCEN), hosted a one-day democracy town hall meeting between youth from across the state and the speaker of the Jigawa State House of Assembly
Despite the strategic importance of legislature in democratic governance, many youth in Nigeria are not adequately informed about the constitutional role of the legislature in governance and how to effectively engage with the legislative arm of government to ensure effective legislation including transparency and accountability in legislative processes.
It was in view of the lack of basic understanding of the constitutional function of the legislature as the third arm of democratic governments that the Organization for Community Civic Engagement (OCCEN), with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) organized a one-day democracy town-hall meeting between youth and the speaker of the Jigawa State House of Assembly.
The democracy town hall meeting which took place on the 3rd of March, 2017 at the Manpower Development Centre in Dutse was themed: “Connecting Youth with Legislative Process.” The meeting was attended by youth from across the state and the speaker of the Jigawa State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Idris Isa Gwaram, who was represented by the majority leader of the assembly, Hon. Isyaku Abubakar.
The meeting deliberated extensively on the various constitutional functions of the legislative arm of government including how youth and communities can contribute to legislative process on matters that affect them as well as how communities can contact and properly communicate with legislators.
Among others, the democracy town hall meeting resolved that the Jigawa State House of Assembly will sponsor a radio program to create more awareness on the assembly’s functions including the roles of individual legislators. The live phone-in program will be featuring interviews with the state’s legislators who will be speaking about their individual legislative activities.
The meeting also resolved that the Jigawa State Government will establish a school for People With Disabilities (PWDs) to educate and empower them towards achieving social inclusion in the state as well as institute an adhoc committee to investigate complaints by students of tertiary institutions in the state in relation to examination failures and illegal sell of handouts by lecturers of tertiary institutions in the state.
It further resolved that Jigawa State House of Assembly will amend the state’s public health act which has become obsolete to review its various sections including penalties specified for defaulters in the act, among others.
Moreover, a wide range of recommendations were made by participants at the democracy town hall meeting which included the need for intensive media sensitization campaign by the state government on the functions of the legislature due to a general lack of awareness among citizens on the constitutional functions of the legislative arm of government by the people of Jigawa State.
It was also recommended that legislators should lower their pledges regarding providing infrastructural projects to their constituents during electioneering campaigns, to limit the high expectations of their constituents in terms of providing infrastructural projects; which is not the core function of lawmakers.
The democracy town hall meeting also recommended that Jigawa legislators needed to do more to create awareness on their primary constitutional responsibilities around lawmaking, oversight functions, confirmations of appointments into key government positions, and investigation of petitions. among others.
“There is need for more community consultations and proper needs assessment by legislators prior to making decisions on constituency projects in their constituencies, to ensure communities get projects they need and such projects are sited in the most appropriate locations, which will help create a sense of ownership among members of the communities.
“There is also the need for improved communication between Jigawa state legislators and their constituents which will help the constituents have more understanding of the legislators’ constitutional responsibilities around lawmaking and oversight functions, among others,” concluded the communiqué issued at the end of the meeting.
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