Mr Rommy Mom, National Team Leader, Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), a programme funded by DFID, has urged the media to play an advocacy role in the ongoing constitution review.
Mom said this at a Civil Society and Media Advocacy Technical Session on Constitutional Review organised by PERL, a UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) programme in Abuja.
According to him, the role of the media cannot be over emphasised in shaping and guiding public opinion.
“For the ongoing constitutional amendment, the media has a responsibility to guide and shape public opinions.
“The media can assist in creating awareness on constitutional amendment issues and sustaining public discourse on the constitution that are up for amendment as it affects the citizens’’.
Mom said that about 21 bills seeking the amendment to different sections of the constitution had been passed and awaiting transmission to the States Houses of Assembly for their approval.
He explained that for each item/clause to be successfully amended, it required a simple majority in at least 24 out of the 36 state houses of assembly.
“The state houses of assembly have the constitutional mandate to vote on the amendment.
“It is expected that they consult with their various constituents before casting their vote in line with the wishes of those they represent.
“This is where the media and civil societies come in; what is our position and how do we get our states representatives to vote on these issues that will support sustainable service delivery to citizens’’.
Mr John Mutu, Parliamentary Engagement Adviser and Federal Partnership Facilitator, PERL, said that many Nigerians were in the dark on the ongoing constitutional amendment.
According to him, citizens should have a say in the constitutional amendment, therefore, they need to be duly informed on the procedures.
“The role of the media is to sensitise the public and citizens on the constitution review’’.
Some of the submissions emanating from discussions include the need for the media to provide platforms for citizens to inform their legislatures about their preference in the process.
Others are deepening democracy by providing platforms to generate healthy debate around the constitutional amendment and increase space for citizens in policy process and deepening democratic process.
Also, there is the need to institutionalise the media engagement to continue to provide platforms for citizens and government in subsequent national discourse.
PERL is a programme funded by DFID in Nigeria, aimed at bringing together governments and citizens to collectively address governance challenges for improved delivery of public goods and services.