OrderPaperToday – A group of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) has called on Nigerians to demand accountability, transparency and constructive engagements with members of the National Assembly so as to encourage effective legislative performance.
The coalition, under the aegis of ‘Cohort of Civil Society Organizations on Productive Partnerships with the National Assembly’ made this known while briefing journalists in Abuja on Monday.
Speaking on behalf of the coalition, Mr. Anthony Ubani, Executive Director of FixPolitics Initiative; and Mr. Oke Epia, Executive Director, OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative, announced plans to organize legislative accountability activities, relying on the exclusive midterm reporting of the National Assembly delivered by OrderPaper since July, 2021 till date.
The coalition said CSOs and the National Assembly can build mutual confidence and work together to achieve a better country, stressing that both spectrums “need not be cat and mouse or regard each other with suspicion,” adding that civil society is ready to work hand in hand with the legislature to “provide effective legislative engagement with the citizens.
“As CS groups, we hold the mandate of constituents and citizens to mount oversight over those elected into public office. We also acknowledge that legislators are elected by citizens to promote their interests. There is therefore a convergence in the roles we as civil society play with those played by Members of Parliament.
“Accordingly, we believe that both spectrums can collaborate and partner together instead of maintaining adversarial relationships. We are optimistic that such collaboration can happen as is the case with the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in Nigeria where state and non-state actors are actively joining forces together to advance good governance and effective service delivery.
“This cohort is conceived and built on a similar model. The National Assembly and Civil Society need not be cat and mouse or regard each other with suspicion at best. We can build mutual confidence and work together to achieve a better country.
“That is why it is our well-considered approach to engage the National Assembly on a non-adversarial basis anchored on a double-plank platform of (i) Legislative Accountability and (ii) Recognition and Reward System to incentivize improved performance in the interest of citizens. “In other words, while we will be, on behalf of citizens, asking informed questions and demanding answers on the performance of elected representatives, we will also be happy to spotlight and thumbs up impressive service delivery by legislators and the legislature.”
The cohort said it will be working closely with OrderPaper to strengthen the objective criteria and standard metrics used in measuring the performance of legislators as the third and final year of the 9th assembly approaches.
“We note that the midterm stewardship appraisals have not been validly challenged by any legislator in spite of muffled murmurings in some quarters. This is why this cohort unreservedly commends OrderPaper for the bold initiative and avows that it solidly stands behind its work.
“Arising from the above, the cohort will be advancing on the stewardship appraisals to achieve the following specific goals: Cultivating and sustaining a cohort of performance-driven and reform-minded legislators who can partner with civil society on critical governance themes; Creating performance thresholds for legislators and the legislature in subsequent assemblies; Advancing Legislative Strengthening and Accountability.”
The group further explained that the cohort was working with OrderPaper to implement the Most Valuable Parliamentarian (MVP) Hall of Fame as a framework designed to applaud and encourage exemplary legislative performances while engendering a community of healthy and productive partnerships between the Legislature, Civil Society and the citizenry in Nigeria.
“Details of this project will be unveiled in due course but suffice to stress that civil society in Nigeria congratulates those legislators who have done their constituents proud in the performance of their duties. We also encourage those who have not done so well to brace up and utilize the remaining period of the assembly to measure up. Those who have done poorly should also brace up to answer questions if unable to change course in the months ahead,” the group said.
The coalition comprises of CSOs working on various governance themes and its members are united by the need to promote legislative accountability and healthy partnerships for the common good of all Nigerians.
Members of the coalition include FixPolitics Initiative; Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Africa Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD), Social Action, African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) and Accountability Lab.
Others are Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative (PLSI), Spaces for Change, Centre for Nigeria Compatriots (CNC), WEWE Network Afrique; International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative and Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA).