Feedback in representative democracy: Ebonyi State in focus
Sir: one of the most important features of representative democracy is feedback. It is usually a bilateral interactive process in which elected representatives report to their constituents on activities and issues arising from their representation while constituents react to outcomes and issues regarding their mandate. It is a crucial part of mandate review, which measures gains recorded, highlights challenges faced and charts a way forward, vis-a-vis expectations of constituents. Unfortunately, in many grassroots polities, this vital tool for assessing the performance of elected leaders, contributing to governance and determining progress made, has become rusty with disuse or under-utilisation.
It was against the backdrop of the above, that a well-meaning Ebonyian, Mr. Eze Igwe, a civil rights activist, convened a town-hall meeting between some elected public officers in Afikpo North LGA and some sections of their constituents, on January 1, 2017 at the Omakaejali Park, in Afikpo, Afikpo North Local Council. Coincidentally, Eze Igwe is the coordinator of Ebonyi Transparency and Accountability Network (ETAN), an advocacy group of Ebonyi State professionals (home and abroad) debating issues concerning Ebonyi State for the purpose of engaging the state government and other relevant institutions, on transparency, accountability, economic empowerment and sustainability, community and leadership development.
The town-hall meeting whose aim was to achieve a leader-led interface, with a view to extracting and reviewing feedback from representatives in respect of their political mandate, was moderated by Joseph Ewa, a practitioner in the oil sector and hosted some indigenous professionals and a section of the Afikpo youths. Kingsley Ikoro and Maria Ude Nwachi representing Afikpo North-West and Afikpo North-East constituencies at the Ebonyi State House of Assembly, attended the interactive session, which was preceded by a football match held at Government Secondary School, Afikpo and organised by the Afikpo AllStars Team.
While this is not a reportage of the proceedings of the town hall meeting but rather an awakening and dispersion of the spirit behind it, it is however important to highlight some of the take-homes from the deliberations, which include, among others, that: There is the need for constituents to complement the efforts of their representatives in what could be termed, participatory governance; grassroot sensitisation is key to raising informed constituents who have a good grasp of their roles and those of their representatives; though infrastructural development is key to the development of the constituencies, the human aspect of development is also of immense importance; youth development and engagement cannot be over-emphasized; poor parenting and societal negligence are some of the causes of youth-related vices; representatives should at all times be at the beck and call of their constituents whose mandate they hold, with respect to feedback and accountability; as a maiden event, there is the need to sustain the spirit of interaction among stakeholders through periodic meetings on that novel platform.
Emmanuel Igbo is a banker in Abuja.