In February 2022, Yiaga Africa launched a Constituency Office Internship Programme to support selected members of the House of Representatives by placing interns in their constituency offices. The three-month programme, which was implemented under the European Union Support to Democratic Governance (EU-SDGN) and in collaboration with the National Institute of Legal and Democratic Studies (NILDS) was aimed at strengthening the relationship between the lawmakers and their constituents, as well as building the capacity of young Nigerians through direct understudy of the legislators.
As a prelude to the commencement of the programme, the interns were given a two-day training which equipped them with the knowledge of how the National Assembly works, and constituents relations.
A total of 37 interns participated in the Constituency Internship Programme where they worked with the legislative aides of the legislators in managing constituency relations.
Here are some of the experiences as narrated by the interns:
Asogo Terkaa, Katsina-Ala/Ukum/Logo Federal Constituency Office, Benue State:
My internship was in the constituency office of Hon. Richard Gbande, where I was part of a three-person team, including a legislative aide and a secretary. One important observation I made was that the office lacked digital tools to enable its work and there was an overreliance on paper documentation. Nonetheless, my 12-week internship was spent supporting Hon. Gbande in exercising his duties efficiently and meeting the needs of his constituents. While most visits of constituents were to invite him to social events or request for financial assistance, the legislator was able to carry out developmental projects including donation of medical equipment to hospitals in the constituency, skills acquisition training for young people in snail and grasscutter farming and facilitation of a peace and reconciliation meeting between socio-cultural groups.
The internship also afforded me an opportunity to learn a lot of new things about legislation.
Jimerawa Yakubu, Michika/Madagali Federal Constituency Office, Adamawa State
My experience in the three-month internship program was a wonderful experience for me as it gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about legislative practice and constituency relations.
I learned more about my legislator, Hon. Zakaria Dauda Nyampa, his duties and responsibilities. I also learned about how to manage a constituency office, especially on the importance of documentation.
During the internship, I had the opportunity to interact with different people from my community, and I was able to educate them about the duties and responsibilities of a legislator. This helped in changing wrong perspectives and assumptions that they held about legislators, as well as taught me how to relate with different kinds of people with wisdom and knowledge.
Donatus Ikhane Ozemhoya, Etsako East/West/Central Federal Constituency, Edo State:
I was one of the participants of the Yiaga Africa Constituency Office Internship Programme (COIP), which incidentally is also its Premier cohort. My application and decision to participate in the COIP programme was a function of my passion and commitments to thriving Nigeria’s democracy, whilst concurrently consolidating my basic knowledge of legislative governance.
I served in the Constituency Office of the Honourable Member representing the Etsako East/West/Central Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, Hon Johnson Oghuma. Here, I worked closely and seamlessly with the members and staff that I encountered at the office, especially the Honourable’s Legislative Aide on Media and Publicity, who I was directly attached to. My task was mainly to manage official correspondence and documentation.
Also, I had the opportunity to oversee the renovation of some constituency projects that have been previously facilitated by my principal, given his absence at the community as at then. To conclude, the programme afforded me a lot of hands-on experience, and I must commend the Yiaga Africa team for such a rewarding initiative.