The assessment of the  8th National Assembly revealed a gap in quality representation especially with respect to core components of representation such as visits and meetings with constituents, establishment and management of constituency offices, responses to constituents’ demands, attraction and execution of constituency projects, and communication with constituents. This informed the two-day agenda setting retreat for House of representatives committee on constituency outreach to enhance capacity of lawmakers to improve quality of representation and engagement with their constituents.

The retreat among others highlighted the mandate of the Committee to include: ensuring the maintenance of constituency offices by members; liaising with appropriate Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA’s) responsible for the coordination of constituency development projects; monitoring and supervising constituency projects and reporting to the House; and annual budget estimates. Discussions focused on oversight, constituency projects for inclusive governance, constituency engagement and democratic accountability in Nigeria.

During the retreat, the House Committee also resolved to partner with Civil Society Organisations in tracking and implementation of constituency project and management of constituency offices across Nigeria. House of Representative committee Chairman on Constituency Outreach, Mr Bello Kaoje said the tracking and monitoring of constituency activities with support of CSOs will ensure that the era of abandonment of constituency projects with the intent to siphoning funds meant for such projects comes to end.

The committee Chairman revealed that the agenda setting retreat will improve constituency outreach and correct age long impression that constituency projects were drainpipes. “Gone are days when constituency projects are regarded as conduit pipes to siphon funds; the 9th assembly is committed to quality representation to ensuring that democracy dividends get to the people,” he said.

Also speaking during the retreat is the Executive Director of Samson Itodo who emphasized the need to strengthen the local government system, to reduce the channel of request and allowing lawmakers to concentrate on their main functions of law making and oversight. The executive director said the retreat would help the lawmakers to enhance their capacity and quality of their engagement between their duties as lawmakers and representation.

The retreat also witnessed academic analysis on Constituency engagement and democratic accountability in Nigeria by Professor Abubakar Saddeeq Abba. The Prof revealed that constituency management helps build and strengthens democracy while facilitating best democratic practice and enhancing political culture. He also urges lawmakers to sustain constituency activities as it endears them to their constituents while serving as in input for policy and programmes.

According to findings revealed by Uadamen Ilevbaoje, as many as over 8000 constituency projects are scattered across the country with the intention that when completed, they would bring economic development and social mobility to Nigerians in every state. Overview of constituency project also that government has budgeted over N1 trillion for constituency project in the last 10 years, but result does not match the huge some released to the respective MDAs for project execution.

At the end of the retreat, the committee released a communique recommending that development partners and civil society organisations (CSOs) should be involved in monitoring and tracking of constituency projects and constituency offices. Similarly, the committee resolved that completed constituency projects sponsored by Nigerian lawmakers will henceforth be labeled as ‘Facilitated by’ and no longer as ‘Donated by.

Similarly, the committee also resolved “to deploy its oversight powers to ensure that members set up functional constituency offices as statutorily required. This will enable effective communication between constituents and their representatives and deepen legislative accountability. The Committee is committed to promoting regular engagement between constituents and their representatives to promote inclusive governance.”

The committee also resolved “to deploy its oversight powers to ensure that members set up functional constituency offices as statutorily required. This will enable effective communication between constituents and their representatives and deepen legislative accountability.” The Committee is committed to promoting regular engagement between constituents and their representatives to promote inclusive governance.”

Read Communique released by the Committee HERE