At Workshop for Media and Civil Society Partners on Promoting Open Parliament for Upscaling Legislative Accountability (POPULA), Parliamentary Monitoring Organisations (PMOs) charged to popularise the Open Parliament Index (OPI)
A coalition of civil society organisations has charged journalists on the need to hold parliamentarians accountable, describing it as crucial.
They gave the charge on Wednesday in Abuja at a Capacity-Building Workshop for Media and Civil Society Partners as part of the Promoting Open Parliament for Upscaling Legislative Accountability (POPULA) Project being implemented by OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative (OAI) and the Nigeria Network of Parliamentary Monitoring Organisations.
Tagged ‘Open Parliament Index (OPI),’ the workshop which is aimed at assessing parliaments across Africa using the criteria of transparency, civic participation and public accountability, is conceived as an initiative to strengthen the capacity of Parliamentary Monitoring Organisations (PMOs), adding that the legislative arm of government is very important in a democracy, informing the decision of Parliamentary Network (PN) Africa to run the project as an assessment of parliaments in Africa.
In his presentation, the Director of Strategy at the Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD), Itia Otabor, made the call for a more transparent, accountable and more public participatory parliament.
Otabor, who noted that the OPI was launched on July 20, 2022, added that the project sought to assess parliaments across Africa using the criteria of civic participation and public accountability.
“Six countries, including Nigeria, were selected to upscale the results further and engage with the national parliament. Nigeria was selected as one of those six countries. You see, the project is called promoting the parliament in upscaling legislative accountability.
Even after Nigeria was shortlisted sometime last year, we had to wait for approval and orders, which we got toward the end of last year, and implementation started this year,” he said.
“We are hoping that the OPI will become a mechanism, a vehicle that we can achieve the institutionalisation of the performance measurement that will engender a much more transparent and accountable and public participatory parliament.
The basic thing we intend to achieve is to popularise the index. And that is by working with our parliament by working with citizens and the CSOs in terms of popularising the index. If we popularise the index, especially the indicators that went into the result that was published in the index, it will help to promote transparency, accountability and civic participation in our national parliament,” he added.
Chairperson of the House of Representatives Press Corps, Grace Ike, said promoting open parliament for upscaling legislative accountability could not be overemphasised. She added that journalism was one of the few jobs people were employed in and, unfortunately, left to their devices without periodic training.
“It is even worse for parliamentary reporters. In most cases they have to go out of their way to sponsor themselves to attend courses.” Ike further said that the parliament was the most misunderstood arm of government, and its assessment had been a subject of controversy over time.
“It is, therefore, the responsibility of parliamentary reporters to enlighten the people on how the lawmakers carry out their functions. Hence, a workshop of this nature is key in further educating and equipping journalists who cover activities of the legislature on the best criteria or methods for properly assessing legislators,” she reiterated.