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Nigeria news: Legislators, civil society canvass for use of ICTs

Communiqué issued at the end of a One-Day Interactive Session between the Kogi State Legislature and CSOs held at the Confluence Beach Hotel, Lokoja, Kogi State on 6th July, 2009

A one-day interactive session between the Kogi State House of Assembly and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the state was organised by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) with support from Heinrich Boll Foundation-Lagos.It took place on 6th July, 2009 at the Confluence Beach Hotel, Lokoja.  More than 25 participants, drawn from the State House of Assembly, Civil Society Organisations and the media took part in the programme.
Three presentations were made: “IT and Legislative Processes,” by: Y. Z. Y’au, Executive Director, Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), Kano; “Developmental Lawmaking, Effective Oversight and Good Governance,” by: Hon. Idris Yahuza, a former member of the House of the Representatives; and “The Role of Legislative Aides and Committee in the State Assembly,” by Rima Shawulu, Executive Director, Nigeria Strategic Systems Network (SNSN).
At the end of the presentations, three break-out groups were constituted to discuss:
1.      How the deployment of ICTs can enhance interaction between legislators and CSOs for the development of the state.
2.      How development, effective oversight and good governance can be achieved through effective collaboration between the legislature and CSOs.
3.      How legislative aides and Committee staff can contribute to effective law-making.
1.      The rules of Kogi State House of Assembly do not provide for Legislative Aides for lawmakers.
2.      The lawmakers and CSO actors lack adequate capacity to deploy ICTs for legislative activities and constituency relations.
3.      There is the dearth of IT facilities at the State House of Assembly.
4.      Budgetary constraints hamper effective oversight by the legislators.
5.      Development and good governance require an effective legislature.
6.      Lawmakers, CSOs and media are yet to see themselves as partners in the development of the state.
7.      If the 12-point agenda of Kogi State government is well implemented, good governance and dividends of democracy would be achieved.
At the end of the deliberations, participants recommended the following:
1.      The rules of Kogi State House of Assembly should be amended to provide for legislative aides for lawmakers in line with the constitution and the necessity for effective legislative- constituency relations.
2.      Steps be taken to provide Internet facilities in the Kogi State House of Assembly; and lawmakers and CSO actors should build their capacities in IT to be able to deploy it in legislative functions and in interaction with constituency offices.
3.       The state legislature should endeavour to provide budgetary allocations for oversight functions as effective oversights are prerequisite to development and good governance.
4.      Lawmakers and members of the civil society should collaborate and partner each other rather than antagonise for the purpose of the development of the state.
5.      The Kogi State legislature in collaboration with the Executive should implement the 12-point agenda of the state government for the development of the state.
Participants commended CISLAC for putting together the interactive session. Members of the slate legislature who were in attendance agreed that they had been impacted and that the session would influence their decisions and the need for new structures in the Assembly as soon as they reconvene.
They equally commended Heinrich Boll, Lagos for providing the support.  Participants said if such interactions are organised regularly they would be the better for it.  
Signed by:
HON. (BAR.) ADAMU MOHAMMED                           BONIFACE KASSAM
Maj. Leader                                                             Senior Programme Officer
Kogi State House of Assembly                               CISLAC