An Evaluation of the Challenges of Representation to Public Policy Formulation and Implementation in Nigeria (Published)
The study examined how the challenges faced by the democratic principle of representation affect public policy formulation and implementation. If it were possible for constituencies to directly deal with governments in making their inputs in public policy formulation and implementation, they would have been better disposed to pass on their felt needs for inclusion in the formulation and implementation of public policies. But since this is not possible for logistic reasons associated with the governmental processes, representation has thus become inevitable. However, much as representation is meant to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of governance, it faces challenges that limit its ability to wholly pass across the wishes and needs of the constituencies for inclusion in government policies and programmes. In examining these challenges, questionnaire were administered to 480 respondents who are politically conscious with a minimum of first degree graduate education. The location of the survey was Enugu state of Nigeria and respondents were free to respond to the questions as it applied to their various constituencies. The study found out, among other things, that there is hardly existing constituency benchmarks which guide representatives, against which their representative functions are evaluated. Secondly, there are no defined channels through which constituencies regularly communicate their needs and issue positions to be considered in policy formulation and programmes to their representatives. Thirdly, there are no functional machinery charged with regular assessment of legislators to ascertain their level of compliance or otherwise with the issue position of their constituencies. Fourthly, the level of confidence constituents have in their representatives to take the right decision/position on issues concerning their constituencies is significantly low. Fifthly, constituents do not know the voting pattern of their representatives in the various Legislatures to ascertain their level of responsiveness to constituency needs. Finally, the interest of political parties that produced candidates for election into the Legislature over the years do not reflected the interest of the constituencies. In view of the foregoing findings, the study recommended the need for constituency-articulated benchmark to guide representative activities. Secondly, the electoral process should allow independent candidacy to make it possible for constituencies to elect candidates with credible character that win the confidence of their constituents. Thirdly, there should be a regular channel of communication between representatives and their constituencies which should also serve the purpose of evaluating the performance of representatives. Fourthly, a voting method in the legislature that makes it possible for constituency members to access the voting records of their representatives need be introduced. Fifthly, the political system needs to evolve a system that allows a fuller public participation in the crafting, implementation and evaluation of public policies.