December 15, 2016

OGP Nigeria: The Journey so far

Open Government Partnership

In 2015, BudgIT partnered with  Public Private Development Center and Media Rights Agenda to launch the Open Alliance. The Open Alliance, currently with 12 members, advocated for Nigeria’s membership of the Open Government Partnership. The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a multilateral initiative and a global open government movement with a cohort of 70 participating countries, which seeks to broaden access to data and information, ensure transparency and accountability, as well as strengthen citizen engagement in government activities and the democratic process in general. Since 2013, BudgIT and her key partners have been advocating for Nigeria’s membership of the Open Government Partnership.

 

The Opportunity  

Upon the election of President Buhari, the Open Alliance presented two memos to the Nigeria’s Attorney-General, showing the need for Nigeria to join the Open Government Partnership having already been declared eligible based on revised rules. The memo was acknowledged and with the support of international donors, set off the process for Nigeria’s membership of the OGP. The initiative as advanced by the civil society is that OGP membership fits well into building transparent and accountable systems, needed to strengthen the fight against corruption.

 

BudgIT also worked to expand the Open Alliance and held three sessions, building hypothetical versions of the National Action Plan. This showed the readiness of the CSOs and the plan (as developed by the CSOs) was the kickstarter in the development of the Nigeria’s National Action Plan. After the persistent engagement, Nigeria sent her Letter of Intent to join the Open Government Partnership on June 20, 2016. With Nigerian government interest in the OGP process, the Open Alliance members signified their interest to be the core alliance to the government to deliver openness and transparency to the citizens.

 

The Open Government Partnership Nigeria Workshop (October 23-25, 2016)

The process for development of the National Action Plan started with the Open Alliance event with the OGP CEO, Sanjay Pradhan attending. On October 23, 2016, members of the civil society organisations across the country gathered in Kaduna to meet with the OGP Team including the OGP CEO Sanjay Pradhan to deliberate, discuss and submit ideas on the success of the OGP Nigeria initiative. Other members of the OGP team include Maureen Kariuki, the Regional Coordinator for the Middle East and Africa region, Joe Powell, Deputy Director, OGP and Aidan Eyakuze, Executive Director, Twaweza, East Africa’s leading initiative on open government and citizen agency. The workshop provided an opportunity for non-state actors to contribute to possible, transformative and innovating ideas to the national action plan which is most focused on supporting the anti-corruption policies of the current administration.

 

The second day of the 3-day event was the official opening of the Government/CSO engagement with the OGP Team. This was organised by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Justice and Office of Attorney General. The office of the Attorney General is the contact point and the secretariat office for OGP in Nigeria. In charge of interfacing with the civil society on OGP is Juliet Ibekaku, the Special Adviser to the President on Justice sector reform.

 

High-level government officials were in attendance to engage the civil society organisations and draw plans for the smooth implementation of the commitments in the national action plan. In attendance were the Deputy Governor of Kaduna state, Bala Bantex, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, Director General Bureau of Public Service Reform, Joe Abah and other senior government officials who contributed to the deliberations. The last day of the 3-day event was a meeting between the steering committee members of the Open Alliance.

 

National Action Plan Development

BudgIT has been part of the process and still coordinates the Open Alliance. However, Mr Edetaen Ojo serves as the Co-Chair of the National Steering Committee. The National Action Plan was developed by the National Steering Committee, after rigorous consultation with stakeholders. The National Action Plan focuses on four thematic areas – Fiscal Transparency, Citizen Engagement, Anti-Corruption and Access to Information. The bold commitments can make a significant shift in the openness of public data and accountability. The Open Alliance, through BudgIT, supported the Nigerian Government in design and printing of the National Action Plan (NAP) which was presented at the Open Government Partnership Summit in Paris on December 8, 2016. The NAP presented by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of State for Budget and Planning.

 

The Open Alliance will focus on implementation in 2017 and also ensure there is further high-level commitment at the Federal Government with the convening of the Open Government Summit. We will also ensure that the co-creation framework – that gives equal standing between the government and civil society – of the Open Government Partnership is protected.

 

It was noted in the first-day session that the Alliance needs to increase by 100% from its current number of member organisations. This was a submission made by the civil society groups who are not members of the Alliance. Currently, there are over 25 applications from non-state actors under consideration for membership of the Open Alliance. The Open Alliance was seeded by the US State Department through the Access Nigeria Project, but it is currently supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa. The members of the Open Alliance include BudgIT Nigeria, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), CLEEN Foundation,  Connected Development,  EiE Nigeria,  Media Rights Agenda, Natural Resources Governance Institute, ONE Nigeria, Partners Global, Public Private Development Centre, WANGONET.

 

Related News Links

http://www.opengovpartnership.org/blog/aidan-eyakuze/2016/11/07/ogp-nigeria-three-inspirations

http://www.opengovpartnership.org/blog/stanley-achonu/2016/11/02/nigeria-ogp-ceo-leads-delegation-national-action-plan-drafted

https://medium.com/@OpenAllianceNG/help-improve-nigerias-open-government-partnership-national-action-plan-662f935763d

 

APPENDIX

ROAD TO OPEN GOVERNMENT PARTNERSHIP

 

  1.  Eligibility Assessment of Nigeria’s Membership of the Open Government Partnership Prior of review of eligibility rules by the Open Government Partnership, BudgIT did a thorough review of  Nigeria’s eligibility for the OGP, and our analysis showed that Nigeria did not qualify for the membership. This was widely circulated to donor organisations, public stakeholders and advocacy efforts were made to the former Minister of Communications Technology on reworking the access to audit reports and also public access to asset declaration forms by public officials. However, in December 2014, Paul Maassen intimidated of the mild revision in the rules and that Nigeria was eligible to join the OGP. The document is available at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz_5npSmNt1IMkluQWF4SS0tcER3NHFiZkZzeEJ6U2FvZk1B/view?usp=sharing

 

  1.   Advocacy to the Ministry of Communication Technology: In 2012, the Nigerian Government sent a letter of intent to the Open Government Partnership, however, the application was rejected as Nigeria was deemed ineligible at the time. In a bid to enable Nigeria to meet the eligibility criteria, the past Government administration mandated the Ministry of Communication Technology to work towards Nigeria’s eligibility.

 

  1.   Membership of the Open Data working Group: PPDC and EiE Nigeria worked with Open Data Nigeria Working Group to review Nigeria’s eligibility, advise on how to improve Nigeria’s eligibility, work with select agencies to identify data that can be turned into Open Data. BudgIT provided technical assistance to the group and sent a memo to the group upon inauguration.  

 

  1.   Advocacy to the Bureau of Public Service Reforms:  On the handover to the current administration, the Open Alliance,  commenced advocacy to the new Government through the Bureau of Public Service Reforms. It was at one of such meetings organised by PPDC on the 28th of September, 2015 (Right to know day) that the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms, publicly announced that steps were in place to ensure that Nigeria sent a letter of intent. Soon after, the Director General on Twitter, informed the world, copying members of the alliance, that a letter of intent had been sent. It was later found that although the letter had left the office of the Secretary to the State Government, it never reached the OGP secretariat.

 

  1.   Advocacy to the Vice President through a high level committee: Members of the Alliance worked with an expanded committee led by Former World Bank President, Oby Ezekwesili and Former Information Minister, Frank Nweke Jnr that met privately with the Vice President and the Chief of Staff to the President to brief him on OGP campaign in Nigeria. Again, the Vice President indicated Nigeria’s interest to join the partnership and plans were being made to hold a public conference at the end of 2015 to that effect. The public conference never held; possibly as a result of the fact the new Government was still finding its feet.

 

  1.   Public statements and articles on the OGP:  Members of the Open Alliance have at various times, collectively and individually, issued statements and written articles encouraging the Nigerian Government to join the Open Government Partnership. An inexhaustive link to some of these statements are below:
  2.     The Open Government Partnership (OGP), an international platform for domestic reformers committed to making their governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens, in November 2014 announced that due to recent changes in its eligibility criteria, Nigeria has finally met the criteria to join the global body. To ensure that Nigeria joins the OGP and accordingly enjoys these benefits, BudgIT announced the formation of Open Alliance Nigeria. http://www.thescoopng.com/transparency-sake-budgit-pin-eie-ppdc-csos-join-forces-form-open-alliance-nigeria/
  3.  Nigeria could benefit immensely from the platform the OGP provides. But signing up to the OGP would mean a commitment to structural changes. And any of such changes from the status quo would require a certain level of courage from the leadership of Nigeria. – See more at: http://opinion.premiumtimesng.com/2015/07/21/the-courage-of-signing-up-to-the-open-government-partnership-by-seember-nyager/
  4.  Three Non-Governmental Organisations, Media Rights Agenda (MRA), BudgIT Nigeria, and Public and Private Development Centre, have called the FG to deal with the inability of the country to qualify for OGP membership. http://www.nigerianewsday.com/national/4414-the-presidents-secrete-assets-and-open-government-partnership
  5.  Rights group, Media Rights Agenda (MRA) last Friday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to assert Nigeria’s leadership on the African continent by taking urgent steps to secure its membership of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) ahead of his scheduled meeting with United States President Barack Obama in Washington D.C. on July 20, 2015. http://businessdayonline.com/2015/07/mra-calls-on-presidency-to-secure-membership-of-open-government-partnership-for-nigeria/
  6.   Weekly tweet chats on the OGP:   to foster public engagement on the OGP, BudgIT led a weekly sweet chat on the OGP. The tweet chat featured various members of the alliance as well as other Open Government advocates and enthusiasts. Links to some of the storified tweets are below:
  7.   #OGPNigeria – Tweet session with @moekariuki – https://storify.com/budgITng/ogpnigeria-tweet-session-with-moekariuki
  8.  #OGPNigeria tweetup with @Seunonigbinde – https://storify.com/budgITng/ogpnigeria-tweetup-with-seunonigbinde
  9.   Open Government Partnership – #OGPNigeria @nnenna – https://storify.com/budgITng/open-government-partnership-ogpnigeria-nnenna
  10.   Open Government Partnership Tweet Session with @EdetOjo #OGPNigeria – https://storify.com/budgITng/open-government-partnership-tweet-session-with-ede
  11.  Role of Open Government on Procurement and Contract Transparency – @Seember1 – https://storify.com/budgITng/ogpnigeria-open-government-partnership
  12. Open Government Initiative #OGPNigeria – https://storify.com/budgITng/open-government-initiative-ogpnigeria
  13.   OGP 101 #OGPNigeria – https://storify.com/budgITng/ogpnigeria
  14.  Multi-stakeholder meetings on the OGP: PPDC, on behalf of the Alliance and the erstwhile expanded Committee and with support from the Open Democracy Advice Centre (ODAC), organised several meetings to discuss strategies to encourage the Nigerian Government to join the OGP. The meetings resulted in the development of work plans and plans for an OGP conference.

 

  1.   Development of memo and Draft National Action Plan for advocacy: Open Alliance has held two sessions with civil society members and wider stakeholders to discuss ways to move the OGP process forward. It was agreed that a CSO-led draft NAP plan to be developed to show the government what the OGP process in Nigeria will entail. A sample National Action Plan was then developed and shared with government key government officials, and a government response was received through the Director-General of the Bureau for Public Sector Reform. The draft was also discussed during the US-Nigeria Bi-national Commission Meeting in Washington DC late March 2016. Feedback from the meeting indicated that the Attorney General requested for a briefing from the UK DFID in Nigeria on what is now required of Government. Nigerian Government later sent the Letter of Intent to the Open Government Partnership Office in June 2016.

 

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