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Kaduna State 10th Assembly: Leveraging Partnership for Quality Representation

The legislature is at the heart of democracy. The diverse representation that the legislature provides is the true expression of the peoples’ sovereignty. The primary role of an independent legislature – in terms of representation, law-making and oversight of the executive arm – is central to good governance, law and order.

To this end, expectations on the 10th Kaduna State House of Assembly are now high with the assent of the Legislative Finances (control and management) Law No. 18, in 2021. The law provides the enabler for more effective partnership with constituents and civil society towards improved social accountability and service delivery in the State.

This was discussed during the three-day Post-Inauguration Induction Programme for Honorable Members of the 10th Kaduna State House of Assembly recently held in Abuja – with the theme: “Understanding the Context, Peculiarities, Practice and Procedure in the House for Effective Delivery of the Mandate.” The programme was chaired by the Honorable Speaker, Mr Yusuf Liman; and the Deputy Governor, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, delivered the keynote address – with a clarion call for cordial working synergy between the Legislature and Executive arm.

The programme had in attendance thirty three (33) instead of thirty four (34) members, due to the unfortunate demise of the member from Chikun constituency. The highly interactive sessions, with the technical support of the Partnership to Engage, Reform & Learn (PERL-ECP/FCDO), was facilitated by resource-persons that included the former and current Clerk of the State Assembly, Clerk of Jigawa State House of Assembly, National Assembly, a former member, National Team Lead of PERL, academia, representative of the civil society, among others.

There were insightful sessions covering the powers and functions of the legislature, role of legislators, standing orders, committee system and oversight process, role of bureaucracy and legislative aides, building Kaduna State of our dreams – a joint task, understanding the budget system, appropriation, law-making process, financial and administrative autonomy, developing entreprenuerial ecosystem through public policy as well as legislative-civil society partnership.

The summary of the three-day programme is aptly captured in the words of the French political philosopher, Baron de Montesquieu, who stated that “separation of powers among different organs of government is the best safeguard against tyranny.”

For the 10th Assembly to appreciably deliver on its very difficult mandate, the National Team Leader of PERL-ECP, Mr. John Mutu, rightly advised that there is a need for the Assembly to leverage internal and external resources and networks. Evidently, this can be achieved through championing reforms that open the legislature and foster collaboration with other stakeholders.

More specifically, the civil society provides a resource pool the 10th Assembly can leverage to change the publicly held perception of being a rubber stamp. This was further elaborated in the presentation delivered by a member of the CS-Legislative Engagement & Accountability Platform (CLEAP), with the title – Legislative-Civil Society Partnership: Catalyst for Improved Social Accountability & Service Delivery in Kaduna State. The presentation was hinged on section 14 (2a,b &c) of the 1999 Constitution FRN (as amended).

In addition, emphasis was made on the need to foster a partnership between the legislature and civil society that goes beyond appropriation and oversight on development outputs, to focusing on outcomes that impact the people. Furthermore, the citizens, who are the constituents, vote legislators on their behalf to make laws, oversight and evaluate the activities of the Executive arm. The legislators represent the diversity, interests, aspirations and voice of citizens. Therefore, legislators are expected to consult and be accountable to the citizens on their legislative activities in periodic constituency town-hall meetings or any other forum. As well as collaborate to hold the executive accountable.

It is imperative for the 10th Assembly to partner with the civil society to engage the Executive arm in the areas of: delivery of target outcomes in the State Development Plan (SDP, 2021-2025); budget accuracy in line with the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF); public debt and service; exaggerated revenue targets as reported by the Auditor-General; participatory and equitable budgeting by providing legal backing for CDC process; allocations to strategic priorities; budget releases without cash-backing; inconsistency in remittance of statutory 10% IGR and independent revenue to LGAs; conflicting revenue data by MDAs; among others.

For better performance, it was recommended that the 10th Assembly adopts OGP Global open parliament commitments, develop a website to make public information on legislative activities, periodically hold constituency town-hall meeting, work with civil society accountability mechanism for evidence-based law-making and oversight, and joint Legislative-CS oversight Value for Money in service delivery.

The honorable members were also urged to review and pass the Freedom of Information law, amend the Planning & Budget and Fiscal Responsibility Laws as well as clear the backlog of audit reports. Doing this will win public goodwill for the legislature and support delivery of the SUSTAIN blueprint and outcomes in the State Development Plan.

Lets engage, ask the right questions and hold the government accountable.

Yusuf Ishaku Goje
Member,
CS-Legislature Engagement & Accountability Platform (CLEAP)

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