The House of Representatives says it plans to organise series of town hall meetings to encourage citizens’ participation in its proceedings.
Rep. Benjamin Kalu, the Deputy Speaker of the House, said this at a national dialogue convened by Order Paper advocacy initiative, an NGO, on Wednesday in Abuja,
He said that the plan was part of the measures adopted by the House to boost the open parliament initiative where the citizens were given the opportunity to follow the legislative functions of the parliament.
Mr Kalu said that a parliament that was accessible, transparent, and accountable was the cornerstone of a thriving democracy.
The lawmaker said that the theme of the dialogue resonated deeply with the core values of participatory governance the 10th Assembly had pledged to uphold.
“Our commitment to align with the goals and ambitions of this dialogue is unwavering.
“We recognise that to achieve the lofty goals set by the Open Parliament Index (OPI), we must prioritise the standards of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), the Principles of Parliamentary Openness, and the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s (IPU) indicators for democratic parliaments.
“The adoption of these benchmarks underscores our determination to create a parliament that is not only accessible but also responsive to the needs and aspirations of our constituents.
“The 10th Assembly is committed to embracing technology and innovation to enhance transparency and participation,” he said.
Mr Kalu added: “We understand that in an era defined by rapid technological advancements, an open parliament must utilise digital tools to bridge the gap between citizens and their representatives.
“This assembly is resolute in its pursuit of leveraging technology to streamline communication, facilitate access to information, and enable meaningful engagement between citizens and their elected officials.”
He said that participatory governance was not a mere buzzword for the 10th Assembly but also the cornerstone of its legislative agenda.
“We intend to establish mechanisms that enable citizens to actively participate in the legislative process, ensuring their voices are heard and their concerns addressed.
“Through randomised and hybrid town hall meetings, which you will see from my office starting next year, online platforms, and collaborative policy discussions, which will commence from my office later this year in the form of a policy dialogue event, we aim to create an inclusive space where every citizen’s opinion counts.
“As the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, I am personally committed to leading the way for innovation and transformation in the realm of participatory governance and open parliament.
“I firmly believe that a parliament that is accessible, transparent, and accountable is the cornerstone of a thriving democracy,” he said.
Mr Kalu said that the outcome of the deliberations would be presented to the leadership of the National Assembly for possible mainstreaming into the legislative agenda.
He said that the dialogue signified a crucial step toward achieving a government that was truly of the people, by the people, and for the people.
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