The legislature is not only a symbol of democracy but also the participatory hub of popular participation. As an arm of government, the legislature avails citizens the opportunity to participate in law making which is an essential pillar of a constitutional democracy.
As part of her Young Legislators Accountability Project (YLAP), the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) conducted a Constituent Needs Assessment (CNA) with the purpose of collecting specific information that includes citizen’s (constituency) expectation from these young legislators.
On the 24th of September, 2015, a group of independent researchers consisting of civic education volunteers and staff of YIAGA who performed both supervisory and researcher roles visited the constituencies of the legislators. The exercise took place in 18 states and 23 constituencies.
Researchers administered 100 questionnaires in each of the constituency covering both the urban, semi-urban and rural areas of the constituency, conducted interviews and phone interview with constituents which includes stakeholders and various interest groups.
The report of the study will provide YIAGA and other information users with basic data on the expectations and demands of the constituency, and further facilitate citizens’ legislative engagements.
Additionally, the report will provide a glimpse of the level of citizen’s knowledge on the roles and responsibilities of their legislators; serve as a bedrock for the agenda setting for the #YLAP project and for future analyses; enabling better comparison of legislative participation year-on-year, as well as identify the constituency offices of the legislators and the status of its functionality.
The needs assessment provided a glimpse into the minds of the constituents of the young legislators in the House of Representatives. In the words of a constituent from Ovia North East:
‘I want to see my legislator monthly so that I am sure he is not forgetting his constituents.’
The general feeling that has been observed from the needs assessment exercise was the yearning of the people to hold their representatives accountable to their promises and their responsibilities.
Public accountability is beneficial to the sustenance of our democracy. We’re building a conscious citizenry who demand accountability of their representatives. What are you doing?