2023 Int’l Day of Parliamentarism: Group Advocates Digitalization of National Assembly
A group of stakeholders, led by African Parliamentary Advocacy and Research Group (APARG), has urged the leadership of the 10th National Assembly to adopt digital system to enhance citizens’ participation in parliamentary activities.
Director of the group, Amb. Chibuzo Okereke, stated this on Friday in Abuja at a news conference to mark the 2023 International Day of Parliamentarians.
The conference, organized in collaboration with the Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA), was to stimulate and galvanize stakeholders’ commitment to the parliament to ensure improved service delivery.
Okereke said that the day, set aside to highlight the importance of parliament in democracy, was with the theme: ‘Parliament for the Planet’.
“Our focus is on embracing digital parliament which is key in a world of technology.
“This is because it is helpful for citizens to participate in key decision-making process like passage of budget and confirmation hearing for key appointments of the executive, like investigative hearing on key issues that affect the people.
“We believe that this is an opportunity we have to encourage the leadership of the 10th National Assembly and indeed, the Nigerian people that our parliament must go digital.
“This is the only way constituents can be effectively and adequately represented, because they can key into parliamentary activities from wherever they may be and also see how parliamentarians cast vote on policies of government,” he said.
In her remarks, the Secretary of Women in Politics Forum (WIPF), Hajia Fatima Saleh, challenged the parliament to emulate the giant strides made by the parliament of Sierra Leone.
According to her, with e-parliament, more Nigerians, especially women, will be able to participate in politics and follow the activities of the parliament.
“Talking about digitalization of the parliament, Sierra Leone is a case study.
“As small as the country is, they practise e-parliament, which Nigeria, as the giant of Africa, has not been able to, in terms of voting.
“Now, we do not even know who votes for what or who votes for who; we are still far behind in terms of using technology in legislative practices.
“If Sierra Leone, a country not as big as Lagos State in terms of population and size, I do not know what is stopping us.
“With e-parliament, there will be full participation in the plenary; there will also be public participation in public hearings.
“We need to look at the mode and practices with which we operate and regulate our legislature,”she said.
In his remarks, the Executive Director of DEAN Initaitive, Mr Michael Semiye, stressed the need for building the capacity of legislators in the country for effective adoption of e-parliamentary system.
Semiye said that the gap would continue to remain if politicians failed to make deliberate efforts to develop their personal capacity or embrace global socialization.
“If we are going to have a parliament that functions for the people, one key thing is capacity.
“Parliamentary system must now begin to serve the people in the real sense of service. The moment we win elections in Nigeria, the service system tends to end.
“Then the next phase of service seems to be enjoyment galore. That must change in this current parliament and we hope to see improvement,” he said.
Head of Secretariat, PGA in Nigeria, Mr Amenya Kartay, said that they were opened to training legislators on adoption of e-parliament.
According to Kartay, PGA is in 140 countries across the world developing the capacity of parliaments and parliamentarians.
“PGA, which has its headquarters in the United States, is ready to work with the Nigerian assembly to benchmark and to carry out other legislative capacity building for legislators in Nigeria and the West Africa sub-region.
“We are open to training of legislators and policy makers; we are delighted and the importance of this commemoration cannot be over-emphasized.
“We will be pleased to be part of the 10th Assembly to ensure requisite training is carried out for legislators to enable hem build capacity in legislating, budgeting and policy-making,” he said.
NAN/ Amaka E. Nliam