Project Title: FOSTERING LEGISLATIVE ACCOUNTABILITY AND INCLUSIVE REPRESENTATION IN OGONILAND, RIVERS STATE, NIGERIA
Grantee-Partner: Citizens Trust Advocacy and Development Center (CITADEC)
By Sambari Lemene and Dimkpa Vivian, Kiisi Trust Communications & Research Interns
One problem most developing countries face is lack of proper accountability of elected officials. Accountability is an elusive concept, but understanding where it originates can help citizens find ways to hold their governments accountable. Kiisi Trust, a donor-advised-fund managed by TrustAfrica, uses an all-inclusive participatory method when funding projects that seek to give voice to marginalized citizens. Through its Governance, Voice and Accountability thematic funding area, the Trust supports citizens and communities, particularly people from vulnerable or excluded groups, to become empowered to make choices about their own development – and to act on these choices. The Trust engages with communities, governments, businesses and other critical players to foster a culture of active citizenship.
Citizen Trust Advocacy and Development Centre (CITADEC) was a grantee-partner of the Trust in 2018, and approached the Trust with a concept to work in key communities within Ogoniland to foster legislative accountability and inclusive representation. This project by CITADEC proposed an intervention framework on fostering legislative accountability and inclusive constituency representation in Khana and Gokana Local Government Areas (LGAs), in order to make governance work in Ogoniland and to bring democracy and development closer to the people. This intervention built up people power and improved their capacity to demand accountability and inclusivity from their political leaders. This project was implemented through trainings on legislative advocacy, lobbying, constituency dialogues and advocacy visits with their elected representatives.
Impact of the project
- In Gokana LGA, community representatives, with input from key partners and stakeholders, identified four advocacy issues for engagement and dialogue with their representative at the Rivers State House of Assembly. The issues identified were Security, Environment, Health and Education. These issue-based areas stemmed from the sensitization and capacity building programmes organized by CITADEC which strengthened the constituency dialogue process, improved their capacity, enhanced their knowledge of the developmental challenges facing their local communities, and the need for proactive action to demand accountability and positive change.
- On capacity building on legislative advocacy and lobbying trainings: Citizens in Khana and Gokana LGAs now understand the rudiments of advocacy and lobbying and how they can use them to achieve the desired change in governance and development in Ogoniland.
- Sensitization and awareness creation for stakeholders in Ogoniland: The stakeholder engagement exercise provided participants with the awareness about inclusive representation as a way of developing Ogoniland. During this sensitization exercise, participants shared their experiences with their legislators and unanimously agreed that political representation in the area was poor and expressed satisfaction with the project as the first of its kind in the area.
- An online platform was created as a non-partisan forum to galvanize civic discourse amongst project stakeholders in the area. The forum was created to further extend the participation of other stakeholders and community representatives from the communities who did not participate in the project activities directly but who expressed interest in supporting and strengthening legislative and political inclusiveness in Ogoniland.
- Implementation of Constituency Dialogue session in Ogoniland: The Constituency Dialogue session helped project stakeholders to discuss and identify developmental issues affecting the Local Government Area and the strategies they will adopt for the engagement with their representatives at the Rivers State House of Assembly. The constituency dialogue was a significant step in giving stakeholders the opportunity to meet and discuss their own problems and the right to choose what is most important to them, as well as creating the enabling environment to strategize on the advocacy and engagement process. This intervention has also empowered stakeholders to own their change process in the dialogue for change and accountability in Ogoniland.