By Sani Idris

Some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and citizen groups have engaged some gubernatorial candidates for the 2023 General Election in Kaduna State on issue-based campaigns to set governance and development agenda.

The engagement was organised by Partnership for Issue-Based Campaigns in Nigeria (PICaN) in collaboration with Legal Awareness for Nigerian Women (LANW) under its We-You Project.

The meeting, which was designed to set an agenda for the 2023 General Elections, was supported by the Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), a governance programme of the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

The State Team Facilitator, PERL, Mr Abel Adejor, said in Kaduna on Tuesday, that the dialogue provided an avenue for the gubernatorial candidates to interact with the electorates on their plans and programmes if given the mandate.

Adejor added that the engagement was to also look at the candidates’ blueprint with citizen groups’ development agenda and agree on developmental commitments in key sectors.

“This forum presents an opportunity for candidates to tell the electorate their plans and why they should be voted for.

“It also provides a forum for promoting youth and women participation in the electoral process and issue- based campaign for the good of all,” he said.

On her part, Mrs Hannatu Ahuwan, LANW’s Project Officer on We-You project, lamented that women and youths were not given the right leadership and guidance to occupy positions in governance.

Ahuwan stressed the need for women and youth mentorship in politics to bridge the huge gap between the old and the young in active participation in the political space.

According to her, the world must begin to prepare for the handover of the baton of leadership to young people, beginning with giving them leadership roles at party level for mentorship.

“This is critical because at the moment, women and youths are only relevant during elections but often discarded and abandoned when election is over. This must change for us to grow as a nation.

“The aim of the We-You project is to build inclusive, responsive, and democratic governance.

“This, we are doing by mobilising a critical mass of women and youths to lead campaigns toward translating citizens’ demands into policies and actions in Kaduna and Kano States.”

She added that LANW was equally strengthening the capacity of women and youths on campaign strategies and politicking towards taking political positions that will drive positive change,” she said.

Earlier, Mr Yusuf Goge, Lead Partner, PICaN, said that the engagement created the needed interface between candidates and the electorate ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Goje said that such engagement would enable the electorates to analyse the blueprint and agender of each of the candidates and hold them accountable if they win the election.

“As citizens, we are here to tell the candidates that it is not business as usual, we need to get commitment that they will address our issues.

“Our engagement is based on the provisions of the 1999 Constitution that says that power belongs to the people.

“If you win at the polls and reach 100 days in office, we will remind you of the commitments you made, when and where you made them, with pictorial evidence and hold you accountable,” he told the candidates.