By Alex Uangbaoje, Kaduna
Stakeholders at a one day sensitization meeting on agenda setting for politicians contesting in the upcoming 2019 elections in Kaduna, has charged citizens to vote for only candidates who are ready support the autonomy of the Local Government and will also be ready to uphold the principle of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), in Kaduna State.
They emphasized on the need to also consider credible candidates irrespective of their political parties or sentiments, calling on participants at meeting to ensure they step down the information gotten to other members of their communities and mobilize them to actively participate in the electoral process.
This was part of resolutions reached at the end of the meeting which was organized by partners under the ‘Network Of Citizens in Governance’, made up of Campaign for Democracy (CD); Coalition of Association for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment & Development (CALPED); Initiative for Collective Voice, Accountability and Progress (ICoVAPAfrica); Jay Concept International; and Leads Nigeria in partnership with Partnership to Engage, Reform & Learn (ECP-PERL).
The stakeholders in a communique cosigned by, Rose Mathew Gabasawa District, Timothy Sajoh, Gabasawa District, Kabir Usman Wushishi, Doka District, Sani Lerewa Kawo District and Bako Abdul Usman Campaign for Democracy/Network of Citizens in Governance, added, urged citizens “embark on advocacy visit to take up the issues of adopting Open Government Partnership and local government autonomy alongside other demands with candidates and political parties as conditions for support to them.
“Organize political debate for candidates and get written commitments on Open Government Partnership and local government autonomy. Call on incumbent members of the Kaduna State House of Assembly to vote yes to local government autonomy before the expiration of their tenure.
“Advocate and engage the Kaduna North local government council to adopt and domesticate the co-creation principles of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Employ the use of social media as a tool to demand transparency, accountability and responsiveness from the government. Organize a capacity building engagement to deepen the understanding of selected active citizens on OGP and equip them with approaches for engaging the process.”
The interactive program which had participants drawn from the twelve wards of Kaduna North local government with representation from traditional institution, religious leaders, political parties, community based groups, persons living with disabilities, youth and women groups, and media, was aimed at “increasing citizens’ awareness on the electoral process towards meaningful participation and promoting issue-based campaigning.
“Deepen the understanding of citizens on Open Government Partnership and Local Government Autonomy as agenda for candidate and political parties 2019 general elections. Generate actionable steps for further engagement with critical stakeholders towards improving the quality of electorate participation in the general elections. Commence the process of domesticating the co-creation principles of the Open Government Partnership in Kaduna North local government.”
The stakeholders noted that, during discussions, they observed that, there is widespread mistrust of elected leaders which encourages citizens’ apathy before, during and after the electoral process and that majority of participants were unaware of the Open Government Partnership, as only few of them understood what it means and how it operates in Kaduna state.
“The participants were enthusiastic that adopting and domesticating the co-creation principles of the Open Government Partnership will go a long way in promoting meaningful citizens participation and good governance in Kaduna North local government area.
“Very few participants understood the importance of local government autonomy in enhancing inclusive and participatory development at the grassroots. Cheap primordial sentiments have been used to divide the electorates and manipulate their voting pattern to vote for candidates not based on merit.
“Majority of the elected officials who were once members of the communities usually forget about the developmental needs of the people when they get into public office, only to return with recycled promises when elections are near. They added.
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