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CSOs Should Embrace Participatory Democracy, Nigerian Lawmakers Say

Obuzor called on individuals and groups to support national interest as against group aspiration.

The Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) operating in Nigeria should embrace the tenets of democracy in their services to the society, the House of Representatives and development partners advised on Friday.

The Lower Chamber of the National Assembly specifically told CSOs to work closely with it to improve the quality of governance in Nigeria.

The Chairman, House Committee on CSOs, Victor Obuzor, representing Ahaoda West/Ogba Egbema Federal Constituency of Rivers State, stated this in Abuja during a meeting with CSOs and development partners, organized by Policy Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC)

on the operational environment for CSOs in Nigeria, organised with support from the Foreign,  Commonwealth and Development Office.

He said, “I have discovered that there is so much disconnect between the general actors among CSOs and the lawmakers, because if there is true cohesion, we will be adjusting some of our laws.

The CSOs often see laws enactment in relation with their operations as witch-hunting but if they participated before enacting these laws, they would be joining hands together in building the nation.”

To make Nigeria a better place, Obuzor called on individuals and groups to support national interest as against group aspiration which may not enhance nation building.

He also called on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to be patient with the Federal Government in its bid to reposition the nation for good.

“We cannot allow our country to sink. I believe if the labour unions and CSO are in good cohesion with this committee, we won’t have found them on the streets protesting. 

“I am so emotional about Nigeria. A healthy relationship between CSOs, development partners, and the government will only yield good fruits but let me add that  advocacy, transparency, and accountability are also very key”, he said.

A representative of the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, British High Commission, Matthew Ayebakuro tasked CSOs on the need to be consistent in their advocacy. 

According to him, CSOs in the country are conscious of holding themselves accountable while urging the National Assembly to play the hero in sustaining the tempo of participatory democracy. 

“We are humbled to be part of this and the partnership with the National Assembly. We want to see how the parliament , particularly the 10th Assembly, will continue to play this role in furthering the democratic journey in the country.

“I am happy that this meeting will set the foundation for accountability to accompany the country’s democratic journey”, he said.

The Executive Director of PLAC, Clement Nwankwo, called for synergy between the legislature and the CSOs for transparency and accountability in the governance process.

Friday Olokor, Abuja

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