Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has lauded Nigerians for the progress the nation has made in cultivating democracy in the country.
According to him, there has been opening of the democratic space, decentralization of governance processes and the Rule of Law both in the in the nation’s capital city and the country at large.
The Minister made the declaration in Abuja at the ECOWAS consultative meeting on decentralization of governance processes in member states.
The minister remarked that the voyage towards decentralization of governance processes and powers in Nigeria predated even the adoption of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) supplementary protocol by member states in 2001.
He said: “It is particularly a thing of pride to Nigeria as member state to have already begun the journey to decentralization of governance processes and powers, even before the supplementary protocol which was adopted by member states in 2001”.
Malam Bello who was represented by FCT Permanent Secretary,Sir Chinyeaka Ohaa further used the occasion to reel out the robust operations of stakeholder consultative roundables,Call Centre, among others by the administration as some of the mechanisms so far adopted to deepen decentralization of governance processes and democratic principles in the territory.
His words: “On behalf of residents of the Territory, I wish to commend ECOWAS leaders for enshrining these democratic principles as commanding values required for good membership. In FCT in particular, we have continually engaged the public in decision-making processes through mechanisms like stakeholder consultative roundtables and the operation of a vibrant Call Centre. Through these instrumentalities, residents contribute to effective service delivery, not only to bodies under the FCT Administration, but also relevant public and private organizations”.
He urged the participants to fashion out strategies and measures aim at addressing hiccups in the decentralization process across the region.
Earlier in his opening address, the Commissioner, Political Affairs, Peace and Security of the ECOWAS Commission, General Francis Behanzin remarked that the meeting would provide opportunity for policy makers,practitioners,development agencies and Civil Society Organizations to objectively reflect on the success made so far, constraints and prospects for enhancing effective and efficient decentralization process in member states.
He said: “The consultative meeting, therefore, is aimed at providing the opportunity for policy makers, ptractitioners, development agencies and CSOs to critically and objectively reflect on the progress made so far, challenges encountered; and prospects for enhancing effective and efficient decentralization process in member states.”
The Commissioner who was represented by Head Democracy and Good Governance Division of ECOWAS Commission, Mr.Emmanuel Okorodudu expressed optimism that it is only through effective decentralization of governance that democratic governance and principles can thrive.
“It is our strong conviction that the effective implementation of decentralization of governance process provides opportunities for democratic governance to thrive, where local communities are empowered in the decision making process, enabling them to address issues that affect them, he affirmed”.
He thumped up the successes so far recorded by member states on decentralization and local development across the region, adding that the adoption of at least one legal framework by all member state is a clear indication of one of such feats.
Other speakers who spoke during the session explained that the meeting would explore the various decentralization efforts in ECOWAS Member States with the aim of revealing the political, historical and social contexts under which decentralization has been practiced and its impact on governance and development in Member States.
Chief Press Secretary