The Civil Society co-chair of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in Nigeria, Mr Edetaen Ojo, has charged civil society organisations (CSOs) in the country to ensure the full implementation of the commitments in the current National Action Plan.
Delivering his address at the OGP Nigeria, south-east town hall engagement organized by the Open Alliance Nigeria held on August 1, 2018, he held that the OGP framework comes with a lot of benefits for member countries and their citizens as it aims to empower citizens and improve the public’s participation in governance, in the fight against corruption, in harnessing innovation and utilising new and emerging technologies to attain these and strengthen governance.
Mr Ojo said Nigeria joined the OGP in July 2016 as its 70th member and submitted its two-year National Action Plan (NAP) to the OGP international Secretariat in December 2016 and a work plan for the implementation of the National Action Plan was subsequently developed early in 2017 and formally adopted at the inaugural OGP National Steering Committee (NSC) meeting held in Abuja in March 2017.
He note that more than half-way into the 30-month National Action Plan, there has not been a great deal of progress made towards achieving the commitments by Nigeria.
According to Mr. Ojo, one of the major reasons adduced for the lack of appreciable progress is inadequate CSO engagement in the process, as a fundamental condition for the successful implementation of the plan is “for citizens, the private sector, civil society and the media to hold government to account with respect to delivering on its OGP commitments.
He emphasised that “If we fail, we cannot blame the government alone. We will share equally in the blame and in the shame!”
He noted that despite the opportunity provided by the OGP framework for CSOs to participate in implementing Nigeria’s governance reforms and to monitor the implementation of the country’s commitments, many CSOs in Nigeria have been unable to engage the process for a variety of reasons.
Some of the reasons are inadequate awareness of the OGP, what it represents and how to engage it, as well as a capacity deficit which has slowed down the pace of implementation since the OGP process is built around an assumption of a partnership between civil society and government.
The Open Alliance network was established as a platform for civil society organizations in Nigeria to engage in the OGP process. It was envisioned as a platform under which civil society organizations that seek transparency in governance and public finance, that are interested in ensuring that Nigeria derives maximum benefits from openness and transparency, which is needed for inclusive development and efficient service delivery, could band together to engage the OGP process in Nigeria and internationally.
He emphasised that Open Alliance was created as a platform where civil society ideas and initiatives can be articulated, distilled and advanced into the OGP process, regardless of whether the owners of those ideas have leadership positions in OGP Nigeria.
Mr Ojo encouraged everyone to empower themselves with knowledge and information about the OGP, its structures, processes, engagement tools and mechanisms as well as other resources which will enable us to become more effective in our engagement of the OGP process.
He also stated that as more and more states come on board, we should also develop strategies and approaches for our engagement of the process at the national as well as the sub-national level, where governments are closer to the people while their work has a more direct impact on the everyday lives of citizens than national level governments.