By Philip Yatai

Some citizens’ groups in Kaduna State have set agenda on education and health for candidates of political parties contesting for the 2023 general elections.

Mr Danjuma Dangwa-Abbas, the Chairman, Evidence Technical Working Groups, Kaduna Basic Education Accountability Mechanism (KADBEAM) presented the demands on behalf of the citizens groups.

Dangwa-Abbas made the presentation at a one-day public dialogue with political parties candidates on agenda setting for the 2023 General Election.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the dialogue was organised by Partnership for Issues-Based Campaign in Nigeria, in collaboration with Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), a governance programme.

Dangwa-Abbas identified the groups as Market Women Group, Persons Living with Disabilities, health, education, and social protection accountability mechanisms among others.

On education, the groups demanded for improved infrastructure investment in the sector, improved security, and safe spaces in schools to enhance a conducive learning environment.

This, according to them, will lead to reduction in dropout and out of school children.

They also demanded for full implementation of Kaduna State Inclusive Education Policy and enact and fully implement girl-child education law to improve access and demonstrate value for girls’ education.

They also called for increased investment and cash backing of the education sector, to improve education and teacher quality, including instructional material for better learning outcomes.

They equally demanded for strict enforcement of laws that deal with removal of girls before completion of secondary school and to promote their participation, particularly in science subjects.

Other issues were the allocation of a percentage of the VAT revenue to fund overheads in the education sector, strengthening agency for mass education, adult and non-formal learning centres and supporting women and girls’ digital literacy.

On health sector, the demands were on improvement of health infrastructure, and provision of minimum package equipment and facilities in all health centres and increased human resource for health.

They also demanded a percentage of revenue generated from VAT to fund public healthcare service delivery, improve drug supply across all functional health facilities and increase access to health insurance by poor and vulnerable groups.

They also asked for the provision of shelter, medical and psycho-social support to victims of gender-based violence, scale-up of positive nutrition interventions and effective implementation of nutrition policy.

The groups also asked for increased budgetary allocation for malaria and other killer diseases, health financing and timely release of funds, and improved implementation of health policy.

Dangwa-Abbas explained that the demands were in line with the issue-based campaign to change the narrative for improved service delivery.

Earlier, State Lead Facilitator, PERL, Mr Abel Adejor, explained that the event was to reflect on the lessons from the outcome of the party primaries with focus on issue-based campaigns.

Adejor said that it was also to brainstorm on strategies and plans of candidates to engage in issue-based campaigns and not money-based for the interest of all the people and not a few individuals.

He also said that the event was to engage the political parties candidates on the agenda set by civil society and citizens to improve the quality of representation in political offices.

Also speaking, Mr Yusuf Goje of the Partnership for Issues-Based Campaign in Nigeria, said that the dialogue provided a platform for party candidates and citizens to consider issues that improve the life of the people.

Goje said that issue-based campaign was designed to ensure full participation of eligible voters in the electoral process so that the majority of the electorate would elect leaders that would address their issues.

He said that the current situation where only a few out of the eligible and registered voters participate in general elections was unacceptable, stressing that the campaign would reverse the trend through issue-based campaigns.

“We also want the party candidates and electorate to understand the current economic situation in the country so that candidates would be held accountable to the promises they made during the campaign,” he said.

One of the candidates, Ms Hauwa Gambo, candidate for the House of Representatives, Kajuru/Chikun Federal Constituency under the African Democratic Congress (ADC), commended the organisers of the event.

Gambo said that her issues were centred around women empowerment and youths’ development and improved security for the people of the constituency and commended the citizens for presenting their demands.

Also, Mr Kalat Ali, a candidate for Jema’a State Constituency in the State Assembly under the PDP, said that the electorate were only concerned with money in their pockets and not development issues.

He commended the PERL and Partnership for Issues-Based Campaign in Nigeria, for driving issue-based campaigns, and expressed optimism that the campaign would change the mindset of the electorate to begin to make reasonable demands.

NAN reports that some of the politicians at the event included Mr Yusuf Salisu, member representing Kawo State constituency in the State Assembly, and re-contesting for the seat on the platform of the PDP.

Others are Mrs Comfort Anwe, representing Sanga State Constituency, also standing for re-election on the PDP platform, Mr Nuhu Shadalafiya, representing Kagarko State Constituency in the State Assembly on the APC platform. (NAN)