Stallion Times Holds Workshop on the Establishment of Permanent Dialogue Mechanism in Kogi State

Mr. Isiyaku Ahmed, Editor-in-Chief of Stallion Times

On April 27, 2024, Stallion Times, a media outlet based in Kano, conducted a one-day capacity-building workshop in Lokoja, for 30 participants drawn from civil society organisations, faith-based groups, Government representatives, and the media to enable them to spearhead the establishment of a Permanent Dialogue Mechanism in Kogi State.

The initiative was held under the “Get Involved Dialogue and Improve Project (GDIRP)” and aimed at facilitating constructive engagement between various stakeholders and the state government to address key development issues.

Participants at the workshop commended the government for the approval and subsequent inauguration of the state Open Government Partnership (OGP) steering committee. They however pointed out that there is a need to validate the State Action Plan (SAP) to fast-track the inclusion of the people in the programmes and policies of Government as it concerns the well-being of the citizenry.

The Kogi State Governor, Ahmed Usman Ododo, represented by his Special Adviser on Media, Isah Ismail, lauded Stallion Times for its dedication to fostering dialogue for societal advancement and conveyed his unwavering commitment to openness in governance. The Governor emphasized the importance of transparency and accountability in driving progress and ensuring the well-being of citizens, underscoring the need for collaborative efforts to address developmental challenges. “We are proud of Stallion Times and the partnership to promote dialogue among stakeholders for the development of the society,” he said.

Explaining the objectives of establishing the Permanent Dialogue Mechanism, the Editor-in-Chief of Stallion Times, Mr. Isiyaku Ahmed, said it is a global best practice for citizens’ engagement and participation in governance.

Mr. Ahmed also said that the essence of the workshop was to equip stakeholders with strategies for effective engagement with the government and private sector, to effectively deliver dividends of democracy to the people.

He promised that: “In Kogi, we will work to strategically key the mechanism into the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Thematic Areas for effective engagement with government and the private sector.”

Mr. Ahmed stressed that the mechanism would serve as a conduit for amplifying the voices of marginalized and hard-to-reach communities to channel their concerns to policymakers.

He emphasized that “This dialogue mechanism will focus on a wide array of developmental issues, security, healthcare, education, human rights, infrastructure, and gender and social inclusion.

“By promoting collaboration and dialogue, the initiative would devise sustainable solutions to address key development issues and drive positive change across the state,” he stated.

Uchenna Arisukwu, the Civil Society Adviser at National Open Government Partnership (OGP) Secretariat, commended the initiative, highlighting the importance of partnership between government and civil society in promoting open governance.

He also harped on the role of the OGP in facilitating dialogue, urging stakeholders to leverage the platform to drive meaningful reforms and development initiatives in Kogi State.

Stella Udoka, President of the Nigerian Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), in her remarks emphasized the pivotal role of the media in sustaining the dialogue mechanism and driving societal change. She underscored the media’s responsibility as the fourth estate of the realm in holding government accountable and advocating for the welfare of citizens.

Ms Kuburat Adekunle, President, Kogi Polytechnic Chapter of the National Association of Kogi State Students, (NAKOSS) stressed the importance of prioritizing student welfare and ensuring their inclusion in development processes.

She urged the leadership of the Permanent Dialogue Mechanism to actively engage with students from various institutions to ensure broader representation and meaningful youth participation in governance.

The Get Involved Dialogue and Improve Project (GDIRP) on Permanent Dialogue Mechanism was carried out under the Collaborative Media Engagement for Development, Inclusion and Accountability (CMEDIA) Project supported by the McArthur Foundation through the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ).