Open Parly Nigeria Canvasses Improved Citizen Participation in Oyo Parliament




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    To improve the level of citizens’ participation in governance and create more awareness regarding the activities of the legislative arm of government, Open Parly Nigeria, has met with major stakeholders in Oyo State. 


    The meeting with stakeholders was part of a 4-day community engagement organized by the civil society organization to bridge the wide gap between elected officials and constituents in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, in the last week of July. 


    In separate meetings with the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Debo Ogundoyin and Muhammed Fadeyi, the group, led by its Project Officer, Busayo Morakinyo, urged lawmakers to adopt an effective communication model to ensure constituents are abreast about activities on the floor of the House. 


    “At the center of any working democracy is a citizenry that plays a proactive role in the governance process by being a part of the process. So if constituents don’t know how bills and motions moved on the floor of the House affect them, a gap already exists,” he said. 


    “Moving forward we want to be able to get bills, interpret these bills, make it simpler for people to understand in their language.”


    He noted that to bridge this gap, civil society organizations must create awareness for constituents about the need to pay attention to the legislature. “We want the parliament to be open to the people, especially those at the grassroots,” Busayo noted.  


    In the same vein, Open Parly’s content and digital advocacy program, Shakir Akorede, noted that people must be given the opportunity to understand the activities of their legislative representatives. 


    “We believe so firmly that if people are given the opportunity to understand indepthly what the legislature is about, people will be able to make electoral decisions more accurately and remove room for the misinformation that fly around during elections,” Shakir said. 


    He added that citizens participation in legislative activities can come in multidimensional ways “that include attending public hearings, town hall meetings, contributing to review of bills and laws and online engagements with their elected representatives. 


    “Constituents can also as well influence their lawmakers to initiate bills or motions on specific issues that affect them,” he added.


    Speaking during one of the meetings, the Speaker of the House, Ogundoyin, commended the group for their efforts and contribution to deepening democratic activities in the state. 


    “I can assure you that this House has taken various steps to make the legislature open and will continue to do everything possible to improve this,” he said. 


    In the same vein, the Deputy Speaker noted that the country’s democracy is in danger, and projects like Open Parly Nigeria are key to saving it. 


    “Our democracy is in danger, and we can only get better if organizations like yours get involved,” he said.


    “What worries me most is even the so-called elite. When you listen to them on the radio, you question if they know what they are saying. I worked in the National assembly for almost 15 years; I know lawyers and doctors who served there. We need to change the narrative, and everyone needs to get involved.” 


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