Friday, 17 November 2017

NDCEF Champions the Course for dialogue in Niger Delta, calls for Inclusive Citizens' Participation



Stakeholders in the Niger Delta region and Government representatives in the region gathered yesterday at the prestigious Emerald Event Center in Uyo, to mark the 3rd Edition of the Niger Delta Civic Engagement Forum with the theme, “Strengthening Niger Delta institution through citizen participation” which aimed at bringing together key stakeholders in the Niger delta Region to identify, strategies and propose solution in addressing the challenges around strengthening the capacity of Niger Delta government institutions to meet citizens needs and participation in government.


Delivering the opening remark which was done by the Executive Director of Foundation Partnership Initiative in Niger Delta (PIND Foundation), Idara Akala, said that ‘’the Foundation for Partnerships Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND) is a development foundation established by Chevron Corporation to promote peace and equitable economic growth in the Niger Delta region through partnerships’’.


In his key remark, he stated that “Strengthening Niger Delta Institutions through Citizen Participation, is what he consider being very apt, based personal experiences in the region. ‘’I hope through our deliberations here today, we will be able to provide very clear insights to the Niger Delta Institutions (NDIs) on how they can do three things: Embed citizens’ participation in their standard operating procedure, Integrate citizens’ participation into their organizational culture, create and install an effective organizational infrastructure for understanding people’s needs and expectations, proactively seeking feedback from them
‘’For me, these are transformative steps for the NDIs in increasing citizens’ participation to achieve inclusive economic development in the Niger Delta’’.

He stated
Another stakeholder in the Niger Delta who delivered a striking key note Address during the event was the former NDDC boss, Ibim Semenitari, who spoke on the topic “systematic approaches and best practices in strengthening Niger delta institution”, She noted that, in order for all institutions in the Niger Delta to be strengthened, it requires the effort of all the citizens in the region. “Development shouldn’t be left for NDDC and ministry of Niger Delta alone. Every institution such as the traditional institution and the youths counsel must be involved”
Charles Oputa, AKA Charly Boy who was part of the special guest that graced the ocassion, while delivering his speech said ‘’the country was in dire need of men of integrity, and good leadership’’.

“We lack men of integrity who are genuinely interested in fixing our economy. The people of Niger Delta are suffering and smiling. We must hold our leaders accountable”.
Furthermore, the AreaFada touched on the case of #OurMumuDonDo campaign laying emphasis on reasons why youths of the Niger Delta Region must wake up to their right and position in the country, not to tip-toe pretending to be fine meanwhile they are suffering and smiling, He said.


In conclusion, He gave his mobile contact for further details and participation in the Campaign.
The Speaker, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Barr. Onofiok Luke while delivering a keynote address during the event on the topic ‘‘Political/legislative imperative for increasing citizenship participation’’, at the 2017 Niger Delta Civic Engagement Forum made known to the public that Citizens participation in the law making process and oversight responsibilities of the legislature helps a great deal in confidence building between the citizenry and the government, and in addition enriches the law making process”.
“One thing sits at the heart of Civic engagements: government’s transparency, sincerity and the political will to promote Civic engagement. You build consensus successfully if you run an open and transparent government. You encourage people to participate only in an exercise where they trust their participation would not be a mere window dressing.”

“An open legislature encourages interaction with the citizens; and these interactions could serve as opportunity for citizens’ participation in the Strengthening of government institutions. Our experience at the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has so far proven this to be true. A key aspect of our regular citizens engagement policy is public hearing. For instance, to carry the citizens along in the state budgetary planning, we decided to introduce a number of mechanisms to enhance citizen participation in the yearly appropriation process. We call this model-Participatory Budgeting. We were the first to do this, four years before the National Assembly adopted participatory budgeting. In engaging the citizens where there noticeable records of achievements? Yes, of course! By merely asking ordinary people (Market women, traditional rulers, students and youths, civil liberties group, industry experts) to deliberate and make contributions to the budget of the State, we found that there were areas of needs which their inputs at the public hearings revealed. The 2017 appropriation law is an instance of such”; he said.


The speaker thanked the organisers for putting up the engagement forum, noting that it was a step in the right direction as it would help encourage mass participation in the building of our democratic process.


The event also had in attendance Hilda Dokubo – Actress and Activist, Ibim Semenitari – Former M.D Niger Delta Development Commission, Charly Boy – CEO New Wave Media & Convener #OurMumuDonDo Campaign. Others were, Ken Henshaw – Activist, Uduak Okon – E.D Youth Alive Foundation, Dr. Kingsley Emu – Commissioner for Budget and Planning Delta State and Emeka Ononamadu – INEC Resident Commissioner, Enugu State.

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