By Chioma Ndife
The Justice Development and Peace Caritas, Awka Diocese, has challenged the non-institution of constituency office by House of Assembly members at the headquarters of their various constituencies across Anambra State.
The group challenged the house members and stressed the need for the establishment of such offices during a one day capacity training workshop on Effective Communication and Diplomacy held at the Diocesan Secretariat Hall of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Awka, July 11, 2018.
The group, during the workshop organized by JDPC of Awka Diocese and sponsored by Caritas Nigeria, demanded an open, accessible and detailed budget from assembly members.
Disability Rights Bill which will favour those with disability for effective right protection was also captured in the CLIP project.
Fides gathered that the workshop was part of the activities lined up for the Effective Execution of Community and Legislative Members Integrative Platform (CLIP) Project initiated by the organization to promote active participation in governance and ensure effective representation of elected office holders.
Speaking to Fides, the Programme Officer of JDPC, Awka, Mr. Ololo Onyekachi Samuel, said the capacity training workshop on effective communication and diplomacy would assist members selected for the project from various communities to carry out an advocacy visit to House of Assembly members on some identified issues peculiar within Anambra which the CLIP project tended to proffer solutions to.
The training, according to the project officer, was necessitated following some issues identified during the startup workshop for the CLIP project. He noted that the issues identified bordered more on the need for an open budget system that was detailed and accessible.
He argued that the operation of an open budget system enabled citizens to monitor projects contained in the budget and track the success attained. He disclosed that the intention of JDPC on the adoption of an operational open budget system had received a cold shoulder following the lack of constituency offices in LGAs.
Mr. Ololo explained that the advocacy for Local Government Autonomy which had been shrouded in a lot of policies was made following the political space which the local government provided for more people to participate in governance. He maintained that grassroots participation was essential in the game of politics.
He disclosed that the project would be benefitted by the 12 constituencies under the coverage of Awka Diocesan JDPC, noting that the body was currently working with its six pilot constituencies.
He identified the 6 pilot constituencies to include Awka North, Awka South I, Awka South II, Orumba North, Orumba South and Dunukofia, noting that each of the pilot constituencies of Awka Diocesan JDPC was represented by 5 communities selected through random sampling.
He expressed confidence that the trainees would go to their various communities and impart the same training received during the workshop on the CLIP Project Capacity Building Workshop of JDPC, Awka Diocese, to other indigenes of the community.
Speaking on the import of the workshop, one of the participants and a good governance advocate, Christian Chieme, said the open budget system would achieve a lot in terms of transparency because the citizens would get to know the actual content of the budget.
He noted that the knowledge would enable the electorate to critic their representatives and make them better informed during election periods. This is even as he noted that citizens could participate in the process of their development by tracking what was contained in the budget and audit record to make sure that the contents were executed. He frowned at the unrealistic budgets which most governors came up with, saying that such should be discouraged.
For his part, the PG of Amansea Community, Hon Ozo Okonkwo, said the workshop had exposed the deficiencies of the masses regarding governance, especially the budget system.
He disclosed that most of the electorate did not know that their representatives should have a constituency office for easy accessibility.