By Philip Yatai

Some citizen groups in Kaduna State on Monday articulated issues and concerns in education and health sectors to engage the political actors in the 2023 general elections.

The goal is to make the engagement of the electoral process issue-based, such that the citizens would sign social contracts with party candidates and hold them accountable, if elected into office.

The event, supported by Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), a UK-supported governance programme in Kaduna, was to influence policy decisions in the sectors, leveraging on the electoral cycle.

Mr Istifanus Akau, State Partnership Facilitator, PERL, said the event was also to facilitate media dialogue with citizens and sustain civic conversation on health and education issues identified.

Akau added that the meeting was also to integrate health and education issues into a mobile application developed for tracking campaign commitments.

The State Lead Facilitator, PERL, Mr Adejor Abel, recalled that PERL had on April 19, mobilised citizens’ groups, women, and the media to set agenda for the 2023 General Elections.

Abel said articulating citizens’ demands, particularly in education and health, was critical to move citizens away from seeking personal gains to collective interest for the development of all.

“If youths forget about their personal interest and work for the collective good of the people, they can determine who leads the country.

“I urge the youth who form the majority of the population, to push for candidates that will improve the overall interest of society in sectors like education, healthcare, and agriculture, among others,” he said.

He advised youths to complete the online registration for Permanent Voters Card, by going to Independent National Electoral Commission offices for biometric capturing.

Mr Yusuf Goje of the Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment and Development, stressed the need for building a mass movement for issue-based campaigns.

This, according to him, will strengthen citizen’s demand on critical issues for social development, particularly in health and education as rights backed by the 1999 Constitution.

He said that mass movement for issue-based campaigns would be driven by community leaders, community development associations, political actors, media, Civil Society Organisations and professional groups.

He stressed the need for media engagement, mass mobilisation and education, advocacy campaigns and social contract with political actors.

Mr David Yakubu, Software Engineer, Ihifix Technologies, took participants through the application developed for tracking campaign commitments by citizens.

Yakubu said that the App, developed by Ihifix Technology, would capture the list of party candidates, their manifestos, what is feasible and what is not and their track records.

He added that the App would also document all commitments by party candidates, to enable citizens to hold them to account.

According to him, the application will provide citizens all the information they need about every candidate, to enable them to make informed decisions.

Mrs Hadiza Umar, Citizens Co-Chair, Open Government Partnership who spoke on behalf of the citizens group, lauded the initiative, stressing that citizens must engage the political process gainfully for the interest of all.