Lagos State Gubernatorial Candidates Commit To Citizens’ Mandate

Lagos state gubernatorial candidates have signed a civil Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with members of the civil societies to intensify efforts aimed at ensuring social inclusion and good governance.

Dubbed the “Lagos State Peoples’ Charter/Social contract”, the agreement which was prepared by the Lagos State Civil Society Partnership (LACSORP) and 20 other Civil Society network in the state was signed by Lagos State Gubernatorial aspirants — Mr Ayodele Akele, Mr Oloye Victor Adeniji and Mr Bolaji Ogunseye from National Conscience Party (NCP), Kowa Party and Alliance for Democracy respectively at the town hall meeting held at The Event Center, Agidingbi, Lagos state.

Other gubernatorial candidates including the two major gubernatorial candidates of the state —Mr Jimi Agbaje of the People Democratic Party (PDP) and Mr Akinwunmi Ambode (ACN) were however absent from the town hall meeting.

 

The Peoples’ Charter (Our Lagos)

The Lagos State Peoples’ Charter tagged ‘Our Lagos’ was formulated by 21 Civil Society Organisations/Citizen Network which comprise of the Lagos State Civil Society Partnership (LACSORP), Partnership for Good Governance, Lagos State Gender Advocacy Team, The Policy Advocacy Project Partnership on Climate Change (PAPPCC), Lagos State Tailor and fashion designers Association of Nigeria, Nigerian Union of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Lagos State Medicine Dealers Association of Nigeria (LSMDAN), Scout Association, National Council of Muslim Youth Organisation (NACOMYO), Lagos Central Mosque, The Radio, Television and Theatre Arts Workers Union of Nigeria (RATTAWU) , Community Development Committee, Community Development Association, National Youth Council of Nigeria Lagos State Chapter, Concerned Citizen (Social Media), National Youth Council of Nigeria (Lagos State chapter),  United Nigeria Chaplaincy, Crossfit Educational Foundation, United Muslim Council, Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (Lagos State chapter) and the Federation of Muslim Women’s Associations in Nigeria (FOMWAN).

According to LACSOP, the umbrella body anchoring the town hall meeting, the Peoples’ Charter is a social contract between the gubernatorial candidates of the political parties in Lagos State and the people. The charter was drawn from feedbacks from the various citizens’ network as well as the public opinion gathered on social media platforms.

The group state to objectives of The Lagos State Peoples’ Charter to include the following:

  • Establish the true representation of our proprieties as a people and the expected performance standards of our elected leaders.
  • Establish the basis for minimum standard of governance practices acceptable to us, the citizens of Lagos State, in accordance with the tenets of democracy.
  • To form the basis for the proper participatory monitoring and evaluation process of government activities (programmes and project)
  • Ensure continuity of government policies and programmes, irrespective of the political party in government.

The Lagos State Peoples’ Charter also cover demands on basic social needs which includes full commitment to the Freedom of Information Act, Health, Security, environment, youth development, housing , women’s development, sport development among others.

Speaking with Development Diaries, Civil society activist and one of the founders of the Lagos State Civil Society Partnership (LACSORP), Ms Yemisi Ransome-Kuti, said the Lagos State Peoples’ Charter contain “issues that are genuine, important and relevant to the individual of Lagos State.”

According to her, the signing of the Peoples’ Charter is critical to have a document that has the commitment of the gubernatorial aspirants.

“We all listen to campaign promises…we have heard it too often, yet they do not deliver. So it is critical to have a document that has the commitment (and signature) of the gubernatorial aspirants,” she said.

“The signature is a legal instrument. It is an instrument that gives the people the power to hold the aspirants responsible so that they won’t claim they have been quoted out of context when they say whatever it is. And we the people have promised to stop at not getting their signature alone. It is going to be a constant, sustained advocacy that will ensure that in a month, 6 months or 1 year, we the people will be asking for the performance, the latest report…because what we want is not only for them to sign on the charter but for them to go and develop an action plan around it, stating —when they will do whatever it is, how much it is going to cost and where the money is going to come from.”

 

Getting other Gubernatorial Aspirants to Make A Commitment

‘We have their commitment,’ Ms Ransome-Kuti said.

According to her, PDP Gubernatorial aspirant for Lagos State, Mr Jimi Agbaje spoke to her personally expressing his commitment but could not make it to the town hall meeting because he had to do some things urgently with his party members.

“He (Mr Agbaje) could not attend but he has guaranteed his commitment and we are going to, follow up by seeing him and getting his signature on the document.”

She continued: ‘Even Mr Ambode has at various forums articulated a lot of issues that we have brought forth. But the difference between articulations of issues and promises is that we the people have the demand in black and white and I know that they will sign up to it.’

 

What’s Next After Signing the Lagos State People’s Charter?

The task does not stop at signing the charter.  The gubernatorial aspirants will be held accountable.

‘The greatest sanction is usually the election. People can say: “you signed you did not perform, you are out”,’ said Ms Ransome-kuti.

‘They have signed a broad agenda. We now want them to go and articulate and develop an action plan, develop a budget to make sure that the demands are met and not 6 months before the election when they will be running around to please us and say they are doing this or that. They will be time bound and we will know where the money is coming from. We don’t want them to promise us and then come and task us without consensus.”

 

The People’s Demand

While the crux of the meeting was to get gubernatorial candidates to make a firm commitment to the peoples’ charter, participants at the town hall meeting which had people from various work of life also made critical suggestions and expressed their concerns to the gubernatorial aspirant with the hope that they will address them when they are in power.

One of the major concerns that came up was the issue of multiple-taxation and how government can support civil societies without eroding its independence.

Other issues that were brought up include ensuring social inclusion for People with Disabilities (PwD), the social welfare of the retirees and Okada riders in Lagos.

“We have heard of youth and women’s development. What are you going to do for the elderlies’ (aged people in the society)?; one of the participants queried.

Dr Adebukola Adebayo, the project development and Management consultant for Nigeria Association Of the Blind (NAB) also questioned the agenda of the incoming government in feeding the teeming population in Lagos State.

At this juncture, the gubernatorial candidates took turns to make promises in addressing the issue in their own way. Most of these promises were centered on poverty reduction.

However, Ms Ransome-Kuti said promises are not enough to address the needed development. ‘What we want is a government that is transparent and inclusive and to ensure that whoever the people elect is not somebody that will put a little bit of money into development and run away with everything. It is somebody who is qualified to deliver that service to us.’

‘We want human capital development. You (gubernatorial candidates) have talk about job creation, which means you have to pay people well. It also means you have to create an enabling system that will mandate those in the private sectors to do the same. In other words, there should be an active labour law.’

The gubernatorial aspirants were also urged to tackle corruption extensively.

‘There is no way you can achieve development without ensuring that money is used for the right purposes.’

Other demands made include: a decline in the concentration of red seekers (nepotism), effective and just taxation policies and adequate social inclusion so that no one should be left out.

In regards to the Peoples’ Charter, Opeolu Akinola from the National Association of the Blind cautioned that such initiatives should not be “used as charity but as a social investment.”

“Anything that has to do with provision for People with Disabilities (PwD) has to do with development. So I think those clauses that have the needs of the PwDs in the Peoples’ Charter should be looked at because in the end it is all about people. Development should be seen as a social investment.  This is because as people grow, they tend to have one disability or the other so whatever development plan should not be seen as a charity situation but as a form of social investment.’

 

Sustainability, Civil Society Organisations and the Peoples’ Charter.

After the election has ushered in a new gubernatorial candidate into overseeing the administration of Lagos State, the Civil Society Organisations are going to be monitoring the activities of the incumbent government for the next four years.

However, during this time, Lagosians and the Civil Society Organisations have the responsibility to help the sitting government in achieving the objectives of the charter.

“This is going to be a partnership process. As the next administration begins it work, it already know these are what people want and we are going to ensure the objectives are met. We are also responsible as civil societies to be involved in policy making and the environment that will make sure that demands are met. We can be partners. We can be on ground to monitor Public Private Partnerships by deciding who gets the contract while measuring track record of their performance,” said Ms Ransome-Kuti who also served as one of the major moderator of the town hall meeting.

We may actually come with more relevant programme that will elevate so many important issues but with this one (the Peoples’ Charter), we have demanded accountability and that will be used to measure the coming administration. In other words, in 4 years time, if you (the candidate) do not deliver, that means you do no not really want to stay as the governor of Lagos State.’

‘By being part of decision making, we can get to the same destination we all want to get,’ she concluded.

Busayo Sotunde is a prolific writer with special focus on Business, Entrepreneurship, Reproductive Health and other development issues in Africa. Her articles have been published by different outlets including Investing Port and Ventures-Africa.com. She has a penchant for reading and sustainable development. Follow Busayo on Twitter @BusayomiSotunde