Nigeria Wins 2021 Open Government Awards for Africa and Middle East

President Muhammadu Buhari
President of Nigeria

Nigeria has won the 2021 Open Government Awards for Africa and the Middle East region as the country’s entry of its Beneficial Ownership Transparency (BOT) commitment in its first National Action Plan (NAP) emerged first in the competition tagged the “People’s Choice Award”, which was initiated by the Open Government Partnership (OGP) international secretariat as part of the OGP 10th anniversary celebrations.

Nigeria’s BOT commitment entry for the OGP Impact Awards came first ahead of Tunisia’s Right to Information (RTI) commitment, which came second; and Ghana’s Open Data Initiative commitment, which took the third spot in the Awards designed, according to the OGP secretariat, to celebrate “the hard work of open government reformers worldwide to bring together governments and civil society to jointly improve the transparency, accountability, participatory nature, and impact of open government work.” 

For the OGP Local Innovation Awards, which was targeted at OGP sub-national members, the commitment entry by Plateau State in Nigeria, focusing on “Increasing Transparency and Accountability in Extractives”, also came first in Africa and the Middle East region.

The OGP international secretariat, formally known as the Support Unit, launched a call for entries for the Open Government Awards in August 2021 to recognize the most impactful commitments by OGP members, saying it would base its initial selection from the entries on data produced by the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) and from among commitments contained in action plans developed between 2012 and 2018 that were assessed by the IRM to either have a star or a Major or Outstanding effect on opening government. 

To participate in the OGP, members show commitment to open government in four key areas of fiscal transparency, access to information, disclosure of income and assets of elected or senior public officials, and citizen engagement, which are measured by objective indicators and validated by independent experts. Every two years, each member submits an action plan co-created by government and civil society that outlines concrete commitments to enhance transparency, accountability and public participation in government.

The secretariat launched two award tracks, namely the OGP Impact Awards and the OGP Local Innovation Awards. While the Impact Awards sought to “highlight commitments that have demonstrably improved people’s lives or the quality of democracy”, the Innovation Awards aimed to “put a spotlight on innovative commitments in OGP Local action plans.”

Following the call, the Governance and Leadership (G and L) Committee of OGP Nigeria set up a committee headed by the Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Mr. Edetaen Ojo, who is also a former Co-Chair of OGP Nigeria, to select the most impactful commitments, for Nigeria to enter for the Impact Awards. 

The G and L Committee consists of the OGP Nigeria Co-Chairs, namely the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, who is the Government Co-Chair; Dr. Tayo Aduloju, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Fellow for Public Policy at the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and the Non-State Actors Co-Chair; Mr. Sunday Dare, Minister for Youth and Sports and Incoming Government Co-Chair; and Mrs. Nkem Ilo, the Chief Executive Officer of Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) and Incoming Non-State Actors Co-Chair.

The selection committee was tasked with developing an approach and modalities to get stakeholders to participate in the national selection process of priority commitments to be entered by Nigeria; agreeing on the selection criteria for ranking Nigeria’s most impactful commitments; and ensuring that Nigeria met the deadline for submitting its entry.

Following a shortlisting exercise and online voting by OGP Nigeria stakeholders, the selection committee submitted its report to the G and L Committee on September 2, 2021 recommending that Nigeria enters Commitment 3 in its first NAP, which spanned 2017 to 2019.  In the commitment, Nigeria pledged “To work together with all stakeholders to enhance transparency in the extractive sector through a concrete set of disclosures related to payments by companies and receipts by governments on all transactions across the sector’s value chain.”

The selection committee’s recommendation was accepted by the G and L Committee and the commitment was entered by Nigeria for the competition.

Announcing the outcome of the global exercise, the OGP international secretariat noted that the process was very competitive and generated 45 applications for the Impact Awards and 60 entries for the Local Innovation Awards, while over 8,000 members of the OGP community voted in the Impact Awards, with 11,000 voting in the Local Innovation Awards.

It announced that for Africa and the Middle East region, the first place went to Nigeria for its BOT commitment entered for the competition; the second place went to Tunisia for its RTI commitment; and the third place went to Ghana for its Open Data Initiative commitment.

For the Americas, the Support Unit said the first place went to Panama, for its Hotline 311 commitment; the second place went to Brazil, for its Innovations in Basic Education commitment; and the third place went to Argentina, for its Active Transparency Index commitment.

In the Asia and the Pacific region, the first place went to The Philippines, for its commitment on the Citizen Participatory Audit; the second place went to Indonesia, for its Open E-Procurement commitment, while the third place went to the Republic of Korea, for its National Core Data Release Program commitment.

In Europe, Ukraine won first place with its Transparent Sale of Public Assets commitment; Serbia won second place with its Public Services on ePAPER commitment; while the third place was jointly won by Ireland, for its Citizens’ Assembly commitment and North Macedonia, for its commitment on Transparent and Accountable Local Government.

For the OGP Local Innovation Awards, the first place for Africa and the Middle East went to Plateau for its commitment on Increasing Transparency and Accountability in Extractives; the second place went to Nandi, in Kenya for its commitment on Public Participation and Civic Engagement; while the third place went to Tangier – Tetouan – Al-Hoceima, in Morocco for the commitment on MEL Platform for Regional Development.

In the Americas, the first place went to Bogota, in Colombia for its commitment on Innovation and Participation in Health; the second place was jointly won by Bogota for its commitment on Gender Parity in Open Government and by São Paulo, in Brazil for its commitment on Citizen Monitoring of the Municipal Agenda 2030; while the third place went to the Córdoba Province, in Argentina for its commitment on Localizing the 2030 Agenda.

In Asia and the Pacific, the first place went to West Sumbawa, in Indonesia for its commitment on Forum for Consultation, Complaints, and Problem Solving; the second place went to West Nusa Tenggara, also in Indonesia, for its commitment on Community Complaint Resolution; while the third place went to Semarang, in Indonesia for its commitment on the Complaint Portal for Vulnerable Communities.

In Europe, the first place went to Khmelnytskyi, in Ukraine, for its commitment on Formation of the Green Course Action Plan; the second place went to Tirana, in Albania for its commitment on WhatsApp Counselor; while the third place went to Vinnytsia, also in Ukraine, for its commitment on Liaison Offices for Citizen Participation.