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Muffled Voices and Blunt Teeth: Town Hall Meetings in Akwa Ibom State

GPSA Knowledge Platform forums Forum Muffled Voices and Blunt Teeth: Town Hall Meetings in Akwa Ibom State

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    Muffled Voices and Blunt Teeth: Town Hall Meetings in Akwa Ibom State

    The Town Hall Meetings is a series of invited space citizen engagement programmes. The locals are invited to meet with elected officials and those seeking elections into public offices for an open discourse focusing on uncovering the exact needs of the people

    This is in recognition of the distance between elected officials and the local people which distance may reflect in the former not properly perceiving the actual needs of the latter.

    Tactical or Strategic?

    The initiative is tactical. Although it professes a holistic approach to development, it is a time specific Programme and usually happens immediately prior to elections as part of the campaign process where political office contestants seek opportunities to make promises
    It is usually restricted to the localities with no effort at integrating local groups into a larger scale.
    The Programme is also mono-tactical, using the singular tool of public discourse without any strategic programmes to translate the people demands into tangible sustainable development.

    Any Teeth?
    There are blunt teeth. The legal and constitutional institutions provide mechanisms such as recall and reelection and the political mechanism provides for constituency briefings to give the elected officials an opportunity to return to the people and give an account of how much they’ve do wand how far they have gone in this context.
    However, the teeth are blunt. These mechanisms do not ensure that citizen voice translate into government action.
    Besides the recall process, which is complicated, arduous and laden with constitutional barriers with no history of ever being successfully implemented, and the fear of not being reelected, there is not much that can be done to ensure elected officials give teeth to voice. Moreover, each official making promises in reality, often acts in concert with other officials and so even if they want to make progress, they might find their efforts stymied by others.

    Suggested Improvements
    Make recall have sharper teeth. Citizens can create a scorecard where officials can be scored and recall officials who perform below the agreed average in a relatively easy procedure.

    Does it Work?
    Yes it does (although it could be better)
    Officials stay at exalted offices and have lofty ideals about what the people need, which ideas are at a wide variance with what the people actually need because of a disconnect between the officials and the people. This program brings the officials closer home and helps them understand what exactly the citizens need.

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