Niger-Delta Open Government Observatory Takes Off
As a measure to ensure that states in the Niger Delta become more compliant with the principles of the Open Government Partnership, We the People and Policy Alert have jointly launched the Niger Delta Open Government Observatory, NOGO. It is designed as an open government knowledge, innovation and advocacy hub for the Niger Delta region, aimed at deepening and strengthening Nigeria’s Open Government Partnership (OGP) implementation in the region, and making governments in the region more open and accountable. The establishment of the observatory becomes particularly important in the region where the benefits of huge oil revenues have been eclipsed by a long history of corruption, conflict, lack of transparency and accountability, secrecy of government data and opacity in budget processes. More than ever, citizens are alienated from decision making processes of governments and federal institutions operating in the region. Billions of naira are channelled into the region each year through the nine state governments, local governments and Niger Delta Institutions (NDIs) such as the Ministry of Niger Delta (MoND), the Niger Delta Development Commission and the Oil Producing Areas Development Commissions with very little reflected in public infrastructure and the wellbeing of the people.
A statement jointly released by We the People and Policy Alert reads;
“Over the years, several studies have made the connection between corruption and the violation of human rights of citizens of the region. By making public institutions in the region more open, accountable, and responsive to the over 20 million citizens of the region, the narrative of the Niger Delta can be changed to one that is more reflective of the abundant resource wealth of the region. The Niger Delta region presents a special case for the implementation of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The OGP is a unique partnership model between governments and civil society to deliver a better life to citizens by making the business of government more open. The Open Niger Delta project seeks to deepen the OGP in the Niger Delta region by:
Investigating and disseminating knowledge on the state of open government in the Niger Delta
Incubating civic innovations for open government in the region
Promoting open, transparent and responsive governance in Niger Delta Institutions, state governments, legislatures and local governments in the region
Advocating for state governments in the Niger Delta to join the OGP, supporting the co-creation of ambitious, realistic and context-relevant State Action Plans (SAPs) and monitoring the implementation
Identifying and articulating Niger Delta-specific sub-national commitments for Nigeria’s next NAP cycle that are both ambitious and achievable”
The unveiling of the Niger Delta Open Government Observatory was done by representatives of the Nigeria secretariat of the Open Government Partnership in Asaba, Delta state. The Niger-Delta Open Government Observatory (NOGO) is designed to serve as an open government knowledge, innovation and advocacy hub for the region. Located physically at the Policy Alert and We the People offices in Uyo and Port Harcourt respectively and online on opennigerdelta.ng, it will be a clearing house for research, peer-to-peer learning, capacity building, knowledge sharing, civic innovation, advocacy and monitoring on everything open government in the Niger Delta.
The OGP was launched in 2011 to provide an international platform for domestic reformers committed to implementing concrete commitments from their governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.
Nigeria joined the Partnership in July 2016 and its National Action Plan (NAP) has 14 commitments, many of them with potential for subnational implementation. There is room for states to join the OGP and co-create state action plans with local civil society and so far, five states – Kaduna, Kano, Ebonyi, Anambra and Enugu have joined.
Nigeria is now in the second year of its first NAP cycle and significant progress is already being made but it appears that the Niger Delta is being left behind in this progress. The OGP National Action Plan (NAP) only passively mentions the Niger Delta and no state in the Niger Delta has so far indicated interest to join the subnational track of the programme.