Speaker Abbas seeks citizens’ engagement in good governance

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, has reiterated the readiness of the parliament to enhance citizens’ engagement as part of the measures for the promotion of good governance in the country.

Speaking on Friday night at the dinner/gala to mark the end of the Open Week, organised by the House, the Speaker said the event demonstrated the vibrancy and strength of our evolving democracy and reaffirmed our commitment to the People’s House to uphold transparency and accountability.

A statement signed by the Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the Speaker, Musa Krishi quoted Mr Abbas as saying, “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 foster accountability.

“Regular engagements with citizens, such as we have witnessed this week, empower 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.

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“I wish to emphasise 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.”

“We have engaged in meaningful discussions, welcomed feedback, and showcased our dedication to serving the Nigerian people.”

Shedding light on the takeaways from the three-day event, the Speaker noted that the House “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.

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“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.”

That said, he tasked lawmakers to brace up for the challenges ahead following the commencement of the Second Session on July 2, 2024, saying, “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 (Friday), 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 geo-political zones very soon.

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“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 and participate in public hearings, constituency engagements, town halls, and other forums for engagement. As the saying goes, eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.”

In his remark, the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Limited, Mele Kyari, noted the kind of support the Speaker has given in the sustenance of his organisation, 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 that  “The industry has been robust all courtesy of the National Assembly.”

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