Citizens strategise agenda setting for politicians

Feature Issue

*Assembly, PERL hold session on 2019 public hearing

By Muhammad Hamisu Abdullahi

For any citizen to give an input on issues especially those related to governance or agenda setting for aspirants or political office holders, an updated knowledge is seriously needed.

cross-section of attendance at PERL meeting

The State Team Leader of the Part­nership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), a DFID supported programme in Kano State, Malam Jibrin Ali Giginyu made the observation at a meeting with partners including the traditional title holders, civil societies and the media on ‘Political Agenda Setting’ held recently in the state capital.

Malam Giginyu said for members of the community to set agenda for politi­cians effectively, they must have a good knowledge of the legal frameworks that guide the 2019 general elections with ref­erence to the recently passed Electoral Act by the National Assembly waiting to be accented by President Muhammadu Buhari and the constitution of the nation respectively.

He asserted that stakeholders could take key issues, but not necessarily many, to discuss with aspirants or political office holders in an effort to take the society to the next level of development.

He added that political aspirants or candidates could be engaged for agenda setting through various means to include media, town hall meetings, community organizing debates and community dia­logues among others towards enhancing good governance in the society.

Earlier in a welcome address, Malam Giginyu read the objectives of the event to include reflecting with partners on ad­vocacy plans around 2019 general elec­tions; updating each other on roles of civil society and media in electoral process and lastly but not the least, identifying en­gagement strategies on setting agenda for candidates (House of Representatives and state House of Assembly respectively).

Meanwhile, an interactive session with Kano State House of Assembly Appropri­ation Committee, the citizens’ groups and the media on the conduct of public hear­ing for 2019 Appropriation Bill was also held in the state capital.

The event was facilitated by the PERL-ECP.

During the event, held at Tahir Guest Palace in Kano metropolis, the secretary of the assembly’s Appropriation Commit­tee, Malam Nasiru Magaji, who made two presentations on ‘The Practice of Public Hearing–Sharing Previous Experiences (Negative and Positive)’ and ‘The 2019 Appropriation Bill Public Hearing–The Approach and the New Template’ respec­tively, gave some guidelines on how to go about the next year’s public hearing.

Malam Magaji informed the gather­ing that the general public or the citizens’ groups could give their input to the 2019 budget at various levels.

He said for those wishing to submit such input on the budget, they could send their proposals to the various commit­tees of the House, adding that their inputs would be incorporated into the budget.

According to him, an individual can give his or her input at the level of com­munity based organizations for inclusion in their proposals or inputs to the Assem­bly.

Another avenue, at which citizens can give input for the budget, he explained, is at the level of ministries, departments and agencies of government, pointing out that the Assembly uses radio stations to send notice to the citizens on the public hearing, describing it as the easiest way to reach to an average citizen for better awareness on the exercise so that the As­sembly could get more input from all the citizens.

In his presentation on ‘Envelop Set­ting and Government Priorities’ for the 2019 budget, Deputy Director Budget at the state Ministry of Planning and Budget, Malam Yakubu Sabiu Garun Danga, said the state government came up with the idea to develop a road map for the state development plan in the year 2007 with assistance from a development partner.

Garun Danga said the state keyed the plan into about 11 sectors of development to include agriculture, education, health, women, youths, commerce and industry among others.

He then informed the participants on the stages followed for setting the en­velop; criteria for identifying government priorities in the budget and the total bud­get envelop for the state according to its various sectors of development.

Earlier, the State Partnership Facilita­tor of PERL, Malam Ibrahim Baban Galla had read the objectives of the meeting as to review and update the process of public hearing to fit best practice and to strength­en the collaboration between the state House of Assembly and citizens’ groups for improved and effective services.

It could be recalled that last year, both the Assembly and PERL had collaborated to hold such a public hearing event in the state and the engagement had helped in sharpening the conduct of a fruitful ses­sion, where participants’ views and obser­vations were craftily moderated and pre­sented to the plenary.

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