The Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and former Civil Society Co-Chair of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in Nigeria, Mr Edetaen Ojo, has urged the new leadership of OGP Nigeria to ensure the timely submission of the country’s Second National Action Plan to the OGP Support Unit and work to achieve its full implementation.
Edetaen made the call in his Welcome Remarks at the 8th National Steering Committee Meeting of OGP Nigeria held at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja on December 19, 2019.
He noted the urgent need to look into the status of the second National Action Plan, which submission had been delayed thrice, a development which, he said, raised fears of sanctions and avoidable embarrassment from the OGP international Steering Committee at its scheduled meeting in February 2020.
The former civil society co-chair recalled that the Second National Action Plan could not be submitted to the OGP Support Unit as earlier scheduled on August 31, 2019, even after an extension to September 30, 2019, and another deadline of December 31, 2019.
According to Edetaen, the failure to submit the Second National Action Plan to the OGP Support Unit would be particularly ‘’embarrassing given that Nigeria is a member of the OGP and the next meeting of the international Steering Committee is scheduled to take place in February 2020, during which the matter would likely be discussed’’.
‘’Under the OGP’s Articles of Governance, a country is considered to have acted contrary to process if it does not publish an Action Plan within four months of the due date, in this case, by December 31, 2019’’, he noted.
He pointed out that: ‘’In the light of the efforts that have already gone into developing the second National Action Plan, it would be a shame for Nigeria to be adjudged to have acted contrary to process by reason of our failure to submit our second National Action Plan by December 31, 2019’’.
While commending OGP Nigeria for surviving the challenges and recording important achievements since inception over three years ago, Edetaen challenged the new leadership and members of the National Steering Committee to continue to build upon the modest foundation laid.
He added that the transition from the first National Action Plan to the second and the transition from the inaugural National Steering Committee to the successor NSC should serve as the right impetus for the growth of OGP Nigeria.
Edetaen also commended members of the National Steering Committee for being steadfast in the task of reforming governance. He summed the teething stages of the OGP process in Nigeria as “an exciting journey, during which we debated the practicability of concepts like ‘equal partnership between government and civil society’ or ‘co-creation’ and tried to put them into practice. Again, for some of us, it must have felt like trying to fit round pegs in square holes’’.
According to the MRA Executive Director, the beginning was sometimes ‘’rocky’ and the union of government officials and non-state actors felt like strange bedfellows.
“It has been rocky at times and I am certain that in the beginning, it must have felt for some us like they were sleeping with the enemy. Strange bedfellows united only by a common desire to reform governance’’, he said.
In his address, Edetaen also spoke about the importance of the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) for Nigeria for the period 2017 to 2019 which paved way for new approaches in which Nigeria could ensure more participation of women, supporting the NSC with resources and an institutional framework to operate, and reporting on how civil society inputs are used to shape decisions throughout the OGP process.