Experts Identify Political Will, Alliance Strengthening as What will Trigger Open Government in Niger Delta
By Ekemini Simon
Stakeholders who have recorded success in the implementation of Open Government Partnership (OGP) in the country have identified political will and alliance strengthening as that which will address the want of open government in the Niger Delta.
The stakeholders drawn from Kaduna State which is rated top in OGP implementation in Nigeria and the Open Government Partnership Secretariat made this known in Abuja on Thursday, February 9, 2023 during an Open Government Partnership Learning Exchange event for Niger Delta Open Government Observatory (NOGO) cluster, State and Non-States actors in the Niger Delta.
NOGO is currently implemented in Akwa Ibom, Delta, Bayelsa, Cross River, Imo and Rivers State with support from USAID Nigeria/Palladium Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) project.
Speaking on the theme ” OGP implementation at the sub-national level: The Kaduna Experience from a State Actor Perspective”, The Co-chair, OGP Kaduna State Steering Committee, Commissioner for Planning and Budget Commission, Hajiya Umma Aboki said Kaduna stands out in the implementation of OGP because Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai has the political will to run an open government.
Represented by Jeremiah Tara, a member of the OGP steering committee in Kaduna, said ” political will is the core foundation for the OGP. If there is no political will, open government will suffer. Since people are elected into positions supposed to serve the people, then citizens have to be involved.
” Before assuming office, Governor El-Rufai had a vision to run a transparent and accountable government. That is the reason when he emerged, he wanted to join OGP at the international level but had to wait for the country and supported the effort for the country to join before Kaduna later joined”.
The Kaduna OGP Co-chair added that what has further helped Kaduna State in the OGP is the fact that the State Governor has used reformers to work even as the State has also put in place relevant laws that will regulate and help the continuity of open government.
He stressed that if any Governor especially in the Niger Delta has the political will to be transparent and accountable, then it will be easy to sign on to the OGP and also implement the desired State Action Plan.
On his part, Saied Tafida speaking on OGP implementation at the sub-national level: “The Kaduna Experience from a non-state actor perspective”, said what has helped the civil society to be successful in their role is that they have ensured alliances among civil society organisations and government is strengthened.
” We work as partners. To grow, we share resources and results. Thus, persevere and be assertive but don’t be confrontational. Sit on the table and dialogue.”, Tafida noted.
Earlier, the anchor organisation of the Niger Delta Open Government Observatory (NOGO) cluster, Policy Alert decried how lack of transparency and accountability has hampered development in the Niger Delta despite the huge resources that stream to the region.
Speaking through the Executive Director of Policy Alert, Tijah Bolton-Akpan, he noted ” Despite the huge resources streaming to the Niger Delta, very little is happening in the area. Without accountability and transparency, It is like pouring huge resources into a leaking basket”.
Bolton-Akpan said the learning exchange event is designed to familiarise NOGO cluster members, state and non-states actors from the Niger Delta with best approaches/tactics employed by OGP actors in other states.
He pointed out that the event was also designed to establish a learning exchange platform for continuous networking, knowledge, skills, information and lessons sharing among sub-national OGP actors; and to further allow OGP actors from the Niger Delta region to locally adopt and adapt these lessons in their home states to improve uptake and implementation of OGP reforms.
The Open Government Partnership is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from national and sub-national governments to promote open government, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.