OPEN PARLIAMENT: Tinubu, Masari, Dogara emphasize grassroots engagement

Leah TwakiJuly 4, 20244 min

Tinubu, Masari and Dogara charge lawmakers on grassroots engagement, transparency and openness at the Legislative Open Week

Legislative Open Week: Tinubu, Masari, Dogara emphasize grassroots engagement

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has called on lawmakers to prioritize grassroots engagement with their constituents in their lawmaking and oversight functions as part of the accountability process.

This challenge was presented during the first Legislative Open Week organized by the 10th House of Representatives to mark the end of its first legislative year and the commencement of the second.

Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume, President Tinubu highlighted that building a strong, solid, and united country requires collaboration among all segments of society. “The task of building a strong, solid, and united country does not rest with only one arm of government, but a collaboration among all segments of society,” he stated.

Promoting Inclusivity and Accountability

President Tinubu emphasized the importance of robust oversight by lawmakers as a means of ensuring accountability within the government. He urged legislators to organize town hall meetings with their constituents to gather their views and feelings about governance, especially since not every citizen has the opportunity to come to Abuja. “Citizen engagement will allow those at the grassroots to contribute to the lawmaking process and policy formulation for the good governance of the country,” he said.

Former Speakers Advocate for Grassroots Engagement

Former Speaker of the House, Aminu Bello Masari, underscored the significance of grassroots engagement in promoting inclusive democracy. Masari, who is the immediate past Governor of Katsina State, stressed the need for constant interaction with constituents through town hall meetings. “Engagement with the people at the constituency level is an important way of providing them with information on what the government is doing while giving them the opportunity for quality feedback,” he said.

Masari noted that celebrating 25 years of unbroken democracy is crucial but emphasized that democracy remains a work in progress. He highlighted research showing that while 70 percent of Nigerians prefer democratic governance, 77 percent of that group are dissatisfied with the current state of affairs. “Democracy can only thrive and survive if we do what is right and when people see democracy adding value to their lives,” he added.

Another former Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, also emphasized the need for continuous engagement with constituents. He pointed out that such engagement would dispel speculations about the earnings of lawmakers and address misconceptions. “It is not always good enough to talk to the people. What is important is to speak with the people, and create a forum for them as an opportunity to talk with them so they can express themselves and not to speak for them or to them,” Dogara said.

Transparency and Openness

Dogara also advocated for greater transparency regarding the finances of the National Assembly to counter the negative perception that legislators receive exorbitant salaries. He revealed that during his tenure as Speaker, his monthly salary was less than N400,000, while his monthly impress as a Presiding Officer was about N25 million. Dogara urged Nigerians to allow their representatives to work without the undue financial demands that stem from misconceptions about their earnings.

What to note about the former Speakers

Masari was the 9th Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, he served between 2003 and 2007.

Dogara was the 13th Speaker of the House of Representatives, he served between 2015 and 2019.

Leah Twaki

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