Citizens’ engagement remains cornerstone of effective legislature – Speaker Abbas

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The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rt. Hon. Abbas Tajudeen, Ph.D has said that citizens’ engagement is the cornerstone of any effective legislature, which is why the 10th House would ensure its entrenchment.

Speaking on Friday night at the dinner/gala to mark the end of the House Open Week, which commenced on Wednesday, Speaker Abbas said the entire event “has vividly demonstrated the vibrancy and strength of our evolving democracy and reaffirmed our commitment in the People’s House to uphold transparency and accountability.”

In the face of declining interest and trust in democracy, the Speaker said, “transparency and regular citizens’ engagement are more crucial than ever. We strongly believe that transparency ensures that government actions are open to public scrutiny and fostering accountability.

“Regular engagements with citizens, such as we have witnessed this week, empowers them to voice their concerns, participate in decision-making processes, and feel a sense of ownership over their governance. This mutual interaction strengthens the social contract, rebuilds trust, and revitalizes democratic values.

“I wish to emphasize that citizens’ engagement is the cornerstone of any effective legislature. The 10th Assembly has embraced the ‘OPEN NASS’ Project, which enhances not only oversight and law-making, but also the transparency of the National Assembly itself. As we hold other branches of government accountable, we must equally welcome scrutiny from the public. Through the House Open Week, we are reclaiming the legislature for its rightful owners, namely, the citizens and our constituents.”

The Speaker added that the House decided to open its doors to the public in line with its commitments to ensure transparency and accountability, noting that “We have engaged in meaningful discussions, welcomed feedback, and showcased our dedication to serving the Nigerian people.

“We addressed critical issues such as gender mainstreaming in governance, economic growth and diversification, inclusive political participation, and the constitutional role for traditional rulers. The diverse attendance demonstrated the people’s keen interest and high expectations from the People’s House.

“Our presentation of the House’s performance scorecard in its First Session reassures Nigerians that our commitment to transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement is not merely a duty but a guiding principle of our actions as elected representatives. The various activities and discussions during the House Open Week have provided valuable insights into the concerns and aspirations of our people and nation.

“As highlighted in our scorecard, the essence of representative democracy is that it empowers citizens to choose their leaders and demands those leaders to give a satisfactory account of their stewardship.”

The Speaker reminded his colleagues, especially the standing and ad hoc Committees of the House of the task ahead as the Green Chamber commenced the Second Session on July 2.

“All committees are encouraged to enhance their performance and document their activities. Our standing Committees on Monitoring and Evaluation of House Committees and Implementation and Evaluation of the Legislative Agenda are called to action in this regard.

“Though the Open Week ends today, our responsibility to engage the people remains ongoing. In response to calls for grassroots engagement, the House, in collaboration with the Ford Foundation, plans to roll out citizens’ engagement town halls across the six geopolitical zones very soon.

“Our constitutional amendment process will also adopt a citizen-inclusive approach. The onus is now on citizens to actively engage with their representatives. I urge everyone to seize this opportunity to ask questions about governance, participate in public hearings, constituency engagements, town halls, and other forums for engagement. As the saying goes, eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.”

The Speaker expressed gratitude to all those that made the event successful, especially donors such as the Konrad Adenuer STIFTUNG (KAS), the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), the YIAGA Africa, among others.

In a vote of thanks, the Chairman of the Committee on the Monitoring and Evaluation of Standing and Ad Hoc Committees, Hon. Obi Aguocha, said “on behalf of the Rt. Honourable Speaker and the leadership of the Nigerian House of Representatives, I extend a heartfelt gratitude to everyone who contributed to the resounding success of this Legislative Open Week, 2024. This event has been a testament to the power of collaboration and shared commitment to democratic ideals.

“This ‘Open Week’ not only aligns with the Lofty Legislative Agenda of the 10th House to serve the Nigerian people with utmost good fate but its contents, contexts, and well-articulated programs aptly meet the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) credentials of a democratic parliament that is responsible and responsive.”

Also in a remark, the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Limited, Mele Kyari, noted the kind of support the Speaker has given in the sustenance of his organization, saying Speaker Abbas “is passionate about the industry, and we are grateful for that.”

He described the Speaker as “exceptional and different in his ways of doing things,” adding, “The industry has been robust all courtesy of the National Assembly.”


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