The International Press Centre (IPC) has educated communities on the needs and practical steps to engage government in their development aspirations to enjoy necessary social amenities deserved in an ideal environment.
At a programme organised by the Centre in Lagos with the support of ActionAid Nigeria/UKAID titled â€˜State-Level Community Development Charter (CDC) learning workshop and advancing youth participation in electionsâ€™, the organisers aimed to impact best knowledge in the peopleâ€™s mindset on the usefulness of government in the society.
Speaking at the workshop, the Executive Director, Community Life Project (CLP), Mrs. Ngozi Iwere said communities should engage their elected representatives by inviting them to town hall meetings and presenting charter book of identified needs or writing letters containing the charter items to their offices.
She said elected representatives are the communitiesâ€™ voice in the house and should be able to negotiate the identified needs being captured in the budget because their power is being derived from citizens during elections.
She stressed that communities should not only be based on engaging the government but also in monitoring assigned projects to help ensure they are properly executed to the right standards.
Iwere further defined community development as a process of effort of the people united with government authorities to improve the economic, social and cultural conditions of communities to integrate them into the life of the nation and enable them contribute fully to the national progress.
She stressed that communities should maintain integrity while engaging with government in order not to allow being compromised with gifts, but rather insisting on the requests to be given.
She mentioned that communities should engage and partner the media to get issues on the front-burner because the governments are not mostly comfortable with the involvement of media.
While enlightening the youths on their usefulness in participating in elections and political parties, the Right Activists/Youth Advocates, Mr. Hassan Soweto said political parties are the system of ideas where youths are supposed to involve themselves aiming at achieving and working out better good system like in other countries.
He said participating in an election gives the rights to demand for the dividend of democracy, necessary needs from government, elect the rights person in office and boastful of citizenship to contest for position during an election.
He lamented that the generation which fought for independence are still the ruling bodies depriving the youths of taking positions, stressed that if the youths involved themselves by participating in elections and belonging to parties, they would get the ruling ideas and ways to eradicate the old generation rather than being use for political thuggery.
Soweto said communities, parents and relations should encourage their youths in participating in parties which will enable a developed environment and sustain accountability.
The communities presented at the event are Shomolu, Lagos Mainland, Surulere, Ifako Ijaiye, Ikorodu and Amuwo Odofin who shared their success stories, saying they have acquired ideas, knowledge and experience on how to challenge government and demand for their rights if they are not forthcoming to their aid as promised during elections with the help of the IPC supported by ActionAid /UKAID, who organised seminars and workshops on ways to demand for development in communities from government.
The communities in their conclusions appreciated IPC for their efforts in their various improved environments where most of their requests have been answered.
Other dignitaries present also spoke on the rights of citizens, needs and importance of participating in an election and belonging to parties; and the relevance of government in the society.
Some of them were government officials from the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC)/Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Local governments, political stakeholders groups and the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND).