KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – A Non-Governmental Organization, Accountability Lab Nigeria, (ALNG), has expressed dismay over distrust among citizens about their government and stakeholders.
Programme and Learning Manager of ALNG, Ms Ehi Idakoo, disclosed during a multi-stakeholders engagement meeting held in Kaduna on March 16, 2021.
The Group stated that findings from survey on two Kaduna communities on its Civic Action Teams – Voice Inclusion Project,
has revealed that although there is a genuine hunger of citizens to connect with their representatives, to be carried along in governance, they were inaccessible and this has led to deep distrust among citizens about government, and at the end translate to apathy.
Ehi explained that the Voice Inclusion Project was designed to give voice to the voiceless by ensuring that government provides inclusive delivery of services, and also ensure that citizens are empowered with the capacity and knowledge of self-advocating for the change the want toward strengthening their voices.
Cross section of participants at the meeting.
“The aim of the survey was to collect citizens or community data that could bridge the gap between communities and stakeholders and also shine a spotlight to the plight of marginalized groups in communities.
“Towards this end, ALNG had periodic townhall meetings, radio talk shows on Invicta FM where different issues were discussed.
“Information were gathered through street vibes where community members were interviewed on the challenges they faced as a whole, then advocate for the rights of the marginalized groups on social media; and engagement with stakeholders.
“The survey was highly inclusive, with 55 per cent women representation, 25.5 per cent Persons with Disabilities (PWDs); and a large demography of youth between 26-35 years responded to the survey,” she further explained.
According to the Programme and Learning Mañager, the survey brought to light four key issues, and this includes; a huge distrust for government and it stakeholders in communities; communities do not feel carried along in decision making processes;
“There’s a lack of access to information on how long citizens can participate in decision making process; and communities would like to engage with elected representatives and stakeholders more often.”
Participants at the meeting.
Speaking on the findings, Administrator of Chikun Local Government Area, Samaila Leeman, said it was shocking to say there is no access to information in the state, knowing what information is to governance.
He said information in the hands of citizens is power, adding that if there is no information flow, its actually a bad score for Kaduna state; saying he was sure this findings will trigger an action towards providing an opening to more avenues for information to flow.
In order to have good governance participants at the meeting suggested citizens make their representatives to signed a social contract to ensure they are held accountable.
To this, the Chikun Council Administrator said it is very possible that this will work if citizens make their representatives signed a social contract because leaders must be held accountable.
He said that leaders were elected based on the promises they made to the people, and so the people should be able to hold them accountable to these promises and also see to it that the officials actually implement what they promised.
ALNG Programme and Learning Manager, Ms Ehi Idakoo, buttressing a point.
“Time has passed when politicians will come up and tell lies to people and get away with it. So if there is a social contract to signed it should be done and on that basis that leader can be ousted from office,” he said.
Also, the Director of Kaduna State Rehabilitation Board, Aliyu Yakasai, who was represented by Luka Dogo, said the stakeholders engagement should be sustained.
He said people also needed to be encouraged to visit government offices to seek for information, pointing out that the issue of lack of information flow must not be treated with kid glove
Earlier, ALNG Team Lead Civic Action, Shiiwua Mnenga, said one reason Kaduna state was chosen for the Voice Inclusion Project was because it is the only state in the country to signed into global Open Governance Partnership, (OGP).
He said it was out of place to have a large population of 30 million persons living with disabilities, (PWDs), women and youth with no meaningful engagement not involved in governance.