JDPC Urges Kogi Lawmakers to Wake Up to Their Responsibilities, Carry Out Oversight Functions

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A civil society organization, Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) has called of members of Kogi State House of Assembly to be alive to their responsibilities as elected lawmakers.

At a one-day capacity building for legislators and committee clerks of Kogi State House of Assembly in Lokoja on Thursday, JDPC noted that the level of participation in public hearing on executive bills in the state assembly is currently on decline as a result of rush.

Stakeholders at the event called on the state assembly to encourage participation in public hearing on executive bills and all other bills for effective citizen contribution.

In his welcome address, Catholic Bishop of Lokoja Diocese, Most Rev Dr Martin Dada Abejide Olorunmolu charged lawmakers across the country have been charged with the need to promote meaningful impact on the legislative process that would better the lives of the people in order to demonstrate good governance.

The clergy who was represented by the Coordinator of Justice Development And Peace Commission, Catholic Diocese of Lokoja, Fr. Augustine Okafor, described the legislature as the bastion of democracy, hence the need to make good laws for the well being of the collective good of the society.

“Because we can not remove the legislature from the democratic system, it is therefore imperative to, through legislative accountability, ensure that the dividends of democracy get to the grassroots.

“We are right in the middle of this high sea and we must take the opportunity. We look up to you to utilize this opportunity for your own good and for the good of the masses. Posterity will judge us as whether we have done right or wrong,” he said.

Speaking, Clerk of the Kogi State House of Assembly, Alh. Ibrahim Amoka applauded the initiative by JDPC to re-awaken the consciousness of the legislative clerks towards demonstrating ethics and values that will promote good governance.

In his contribution, the Executive Director of Conscience for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR), Comrade Idris Miliki emphasised transparency and accountability in public service as key to enhancing good governance in any society.

He argued that there was a detachment between the people and their representatives, arguing that most times the product of legislators did not reflect the wishes of the people.

He called for reforms to improve public sector accountability rules, such that would provide a platform for unfettered communication between the representatives and the people which will allow for issue-based problems to be resolved.

Miliki called for more openness in government and more access to freedom of information, to enable the people to connect with the daily activities of government especially in fiscal governance through the establishment of constituency offices.

In a paper presentation on “Legislative accountability, a tool for sustainable development”, Mr. Mark Asu Obi said the most important way that the legislature can contribute effectively to good governance is through the exercise of the instrumentality of its oversight functions to ensure accountability.

He appealed to Kogi lawmakers and legislative staff to take urgent and concrete steps to address the challenges of good governance, rule of law and accountability through fair representation.

After the paper presentation, participants observed that several bills passed at the state house of assembly are not assented and same bills are not returned to the house of assembly with reasons for declining executive assent.

They score the current lawmakers in Kogi State House of Assembly low in areas of oversight functions, adding that some lawmakers do not have active constituency office and most of them do not hold regular constituency briefing with constituents.

Justice Development and Peace Commission is the service and development arm of the Catholic Church committed to promoting the well-being of the society through various intervention such as humanitarian services, justice, human rights and good governance.

Her current project is on promoting the effectiveness of the legislative arm of government.

Coordinator of Justice Development And Peace Commission, Catholic Diocese of Lokoja, Fr. Augustine Okafor

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