The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives,. Benjamin Kalu has unveiled plans for the flag-off of Town hall meetings with a view to encourage civic participation in legislative activities.
Kalu who gave the hint while delivering a goodwill message at a National Dialogue organised by OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative, the Nigeria’s pre-eminent legislative think-tank, with the theme: ‘Mainstreaming Open Parliament into the 10th Assembly Legislative Agenda’, expressed optimism that the initiative will make the parliament accessible, transparent, and accountable as the cornerstone of a thriving democracy.
He explained that the Town Hall initiative was part of the measures adopted by the House to boost the open parliament initiative where the citizens are given the opportunity to follow legislative functions of the parliament.
He said: “The theme of this dialogue, ‘Mainstreaming Open Parliament into the 10th Assembly Legislative Agenda’, resonates deeply with the core values of participatory governance that we, the 10th Assembly, have pledged to uphold.
“Our commitment to align with the goals and ambitions of this dialogue is unwavering. As we deliberate on the critical intersections of transparency, civic participation and public accountability, let me share with you some of the cogent plans that the 10th Assembly has in store to further these ideals.
“Firstly, we recognise that to achieve the lofty goals set by the Open Parliament Index OPI,we must prioritize the standards of the Open Government Partnership, OGP, the Principles of Parliamentary Openness, and the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s (IPU) indicators for democratic parliaments. The adoption of these benchmarks underscores our determination to create a parliament that is not only accessible but also responsive to the needs and aspirations of our constituents.
“Secondly, the 10th Assembly is committed to embracing technology and innovation to enhance transparency and participation. We understand that in an era defined by rapid technological advancements, an open parliament must utilize digital tools to bridge the gap between citizens and their representatives.
“This assembly is resolute in its pursuit of leveraging technology to streamline communication, facilitate access to information, and enable meaningful engagement between citizens and their elected officials.
“Furthermore, participatory governance is not a mere buzzword for us; it is the cornerstone of our legislative agenda. We intend to establish mechanisms that enable citizens to actively participate in the legislative process, ensuring their voices are heard and their concerns addressed.
“Through randomised and hybrid town hall meetings which you will see from my office starting next year, online platforms, and collaborative policy discussions which will commence from my office later this year in the form of a policy dialogue event, we aim to create an inclusive space where every citizen’s opinion counts.
“As the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, I am personally committed to leading the way for innovation and transformation in the realm of participatory governance and open parliament. I firmly believe that a parliament that is accessible, transparent, and accountable is the cornerstone of a thriving democracy. It is with this conviction that I pledge to champion initiatives that promote openness, transparency, and civic engagement.”
Emphasizing that the national dialogue on open parliament was a catalyst for change,Kalu added that the outcomes of the deliberations will be presented to the leadership of the National Assembly for possible mainstreaming into the legislative agenda, stressing that the dialogue signifies a crucial step towards achieving a government that is truly “of the people, by the people, and for the people”.
Oduyemi Odumade, Edited By Grace Namiji
Written by: Safiya Wada
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