The ailing Nigeria democracy will bounce back if the clinical solution proffered by the Civil Society Organizations is anything to go by.
Speaking the Executive Director of Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights, CCIDESOR, Obidi Mgbemena noted that there is need to critically analyze and address the ailing democratic practice in the country, especially in the South-East with a view to making it work.
He posited the democracy clinic being championed by CCIDESOR across the southeast serves as an avenue to expose the bad democratic conditions, and put heads together to bring effective ideas for a better and healthy society.
He spoke further on the need for citizens to be interested on how the state funds are utilized, and always demand for transparency and accountability. Mgbemena stressed on the importance of economic literacy as a stepping stone towards economic growth. He also stated that the fundamental problem is that the little funds allocated to the south-east is being mismanaged by our public officers.
He stated that it is an obligation on the part of the government to protect and promote the rights of every citizen. He therefore insisted that citizens should never hesitate to voice their concerns when these conditions are not met. He encouraged all to always try to have access to the budget, so as to know what to expect from the administration.
In a bid to ensure that open budget is entrenched deeply across the southeast zone of Nigeria, the Citizens Centers for Integrated Development and Social Rights, CCIDESOR, is out to set up Open Budget Multi-Stakeholders Platform that will engender good governance.
This is coming from the heels of the need to partner with all stakeholders to make for statutory public policy on open budget process, procedures and participation in the states.
This platform will in a more friendly but proactive consistent manner work with all relevant stakeholders from the government, House of Assembly, CSOs, Police, Civil Defence, military, traditional institutions, Town Unions leaders, community leaders, the budget commission/ministry, media to drive the ingredient of development (budget) to the rural communities.
According to the Program Director of CCIDESOR, Barr. Chidi Igwe noted that the process of constituting membership of the platform will begin from embarking on advocacy visits to the relevant bodies, including advocacy briefs among others. This move according to the Program Director will add impetus to the already Citizens Accountability Assembly model, CAA working as a coalition around accountability, transparency and participation of budget process.
“This will ensure that there is a wholistic, all inclusive platform that will cause a societal change using the budget as ‘Game- changer’ for a better development of the southeast states and Nigeria at large”.
As the 2019 election draws near, politicians have been urged to concentrate their campaigns around issues and not personal attacks that do not lead healthy political environment.
The executive director of CCIDESOR, Obidi Mgbemena called on the politicians to be issue-based in campaigns, especially talking about issues of good governance, accountability and transparency and how they will carry citizens along in the policies.
He charged citizens to document campaign promises made around good governance components against personal and selfish promises that will not draw development to the communities.
CCIDESOR therefore charges Imo state aspirants to base their campaign around how much their emergence will ensure good governance in the state. the internationally recognized civil society organization, CCIDESOR posited that once campaign is articulated around ensuring open budget, which gives birth to accountability, transparency and citizens participation, the political space will be more issue-based competitive than what obtains, where personal attacks veer politicians off the real issues of development.
Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights, CCIDESOR has participated at the dialogue on how to strengthen democracy as well as to encourage public participation in governance organized by National Orientation Agency (NOA) in collaboration with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
The aim of the forum CCIDESOR gathered was to bring together citizens and their various elected representatives to discuss on how to ensure that elected representatives relate with their constituency.
The forum which held in Owerri had CSOs, Armed Forces, Various Political Parties’ Youth wing, Women group, House of Assembly members, CAN and the Media in attendance.
In his remarks, the Programs Director of CCIDESOR, Igwe Chidi said there is need for synergy between elected representatives and their constituents if democracy and good governance must be entrenched. He also mentioned the roles expected of armed forces in ensuring a free and fair election in the forth coming 2019 general elections.
Hon. Mike Iheanaetu, member representing Aboh Mbaise expressed disappointment at the low turnout of elected officials at the forum. He mentioned that democracy in Nigeria has been threatened by armed forces who political leaders now use to threaten those who dare to speak up against corrupt or undemocratic activities in the nation.
The Commissioner of Police represented by Polinus Asokwa, ACP new Owerri noted that the police force is handicapped in Nigeria, they lack necessary mobilization to effectively carryout their obligations, he however encouraged citizens to report corrupt practices while the police investigates then take necessary measures. He concluded by stating that the Nigerian police force should be empowered and their capacity built to operate effectively for security of citizens and votes come 2019.
The Programs Director, of CCIDESOR, Chidi Igwe has said that the essence as always of establishing Citizens Accountability Assembly is a selfless assembly born to pilot advocacy for accountability in every level of government in the LGA. The Assembly would serve as a voice to the voiceless; shall ask relevant questions about the completion of uncompleted/abandoned projects which might/have become social/environmental hazard in their various forms of dilapidation and abandonment. He also added that the activities of this assembly shall raise a standard against every intending abuse of public office, funds, or projects.
Identifying with Chidi Igwe’s speech, Mr. Ben Anyanwu (CCIDESOR Partner and Convener of Ngor-Okpala Accountability Assembly) added that CCIDESOR had come to the LGA following the training of some people on accountability and economic literacy (by CCIDESOR), to inaugurate and empower them to softly pressure Govt. and to deliver democracy dividends.
He admonished them to ignore the antics of politicians who would always cook lies and serve them fresh during political campaigns, only to shut their doors after winning elections. He also pointed out that the LGA does not receive their own share of democracy dividends due to the painful fact that there is no one to speak out or ask the right questions, but embraced the potential hope in the new Assembly that would certainly bring the overdue positive change.
Mr. Leo Kanu, the P.G Eziama Autonomous Community Ngor-Okpala noted that it would be impossible to know the state budget since there is no access to such a sensitive document. It is from the contents of the state budget that the assembly will know the rightful allocation of Ngor-Okpala before commencing advocacy. Secondly, he asked to be clarified about the legitimacy of the Assembly considering the nature of their activities? Chidi Igwe (of CCIDESOR) reassured him that CCIDESOR would always make ready such sensitive documents to her partners. He additional clarified him on the legitimacy confusion stating that, “the nativity of the assembly members automatically makes legitimate their activities. (The Assembly Members are meant to be from the same local government (Ngor-Okpala), and are programmed to carryout advocacy within the LGA alone.)
Rising from their election observatory roles, the Civil Society Organizations, CSOs who monitored the election noted that the November, 2017 Anambra State governorship election which has come and gone was all a win win situation for the people.
The members of Citizens Accountability Assembly (CAA), Ebonyi State, whose functions are to give collective voice to citizens and engage government to demand accountability have advocated for automated Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
Southeast leaders have been charged to ensure that they are transparent and accountable in their drive to develop their zones.
The Coalition of Civil Society Organizations, under the auspices of Citizens Accountability Assembly (CAA), anchored by CCIDESOR has described the failure of the Imo State Government led by Owelle Rochas Okorocha to present the 2018 budget as insensitivity to one of the most important document that drives development of a state.
A huge step has been taken towards the institutionalization of open and participatory budget process in Imo State after CCIDESOR and its open budget cluster paid advocacy visits to the Imo State Head of Service, The Clerk, and the Chief Whip of the House of Assembly. (more…)