The local government remains the most ignored and most mismanaged tier of government in Nigeria despite being the closest to the people and being constitutionally responsible for most of the basic services required for the wellbeing of the average citizen.
To support the third tier in its delivery of services to local communities, The Orderly Society Trust (OST) is implementing an initiative that will support civic engagement and inclusive participation in local governance. The project is multi-dimensional in its approach in addressing the challenges of low participation in local governance. The project with the pilot in Lagos includes an advocacy campaign to revive Community Development Associations (CDAs), a ‘Know you Local Government campaign, a training workshop for Information Officers and the establishment of the interactive web-based platform called the “House of Citizens”.
The Initial phase of the project will focus on rejuvenating Community Development Associations in target local government areas by implementing a membership drive to include younger citizens. OST will seek to expand the membership of the CDAs working with the present structure to include residents from the age of eighteen year old and above. To prepare the residents for effective engagement, OST will implement an enlightenment campaign. The goal is to provide residents with a greater understanding of democratic values such inclusion, participation, responsibility, equality and Justice. With the enlightenment campaigns, residents that belong to the CDAs should have the requisite skills to engage their local councils and know the approach channels for accessing information in their local councils.
From the OST’s survey, respondents either did not know the feedback channels available or did not think their local council took their complaints seriously. With the proposed training course for Information Officers (using interactive web based platforms to increase civic participation), residents can be assured, they will receive timely and useable information from their local councils. With the proposed feedback mechanism, we can begin to build a culture of transparency and accountability, which in the long-term can strengthen citizens’ goodwill towards the councils and increase civic participation.
The web-based platform will be called the “House of citizens” where every resident of the pilot local councils (whether online or offline) can access information on their local council, make a complaint, give and receive feedback, publicise achievement of their council, have open deliberation on the proposed budget with their councils or just discussing and proposing solutions for developmental challenges.