ANEEJ organized a two-day MANTRA project mid-term review meeting on October 11 – 12, 2018 at Morzi Hotel, Benin City. ANEEJ staff and her project partners, MANTRA project consultants, ACORN project partners (Actionaid Nigeria) and other CSOs, Ministry of Justice, OGP Secretariat, National Cash Transfer Office (NCTO) and National Social Safety Net Coordinating Office (NASSCO) were all in attendance.
The meeting was in furtherance of the Monitoring of Recovered Assets Through Transparency & Accountability, MANTRA, as part of the DFID Anti-Corruption in Nigeria, ACORN. The meeting sought to review the MANTRA project implementation, assess project activities as well as ascertain challenges and lessons learnt. The event was also used to share plans for field monitoring with NCTO & NASSCO and to get their feedback.
Chairman ANEEJ Board of Directors, Prof. Ben Aigbokhan said that achieving transparency & accountability in the recovery and management of looted assets is crucial to the advocacy for, and efforts by government, civil society and other stakeholders to ensure that all illicit financial outflows from Nigeria are returned. Prof Ben mentioned that ANEEJ is proud of what the MANTRA project has been able to achieve so far in the last six months, as concrete steps have been taken in terms of advocacy and strategic engagements to enhance the policy and institutional framework for asset recovery and management in Nigeria. He concluded by reminding participants of the significance of ensuring the success of the MANTRA project and the broader programme and policy environment within which the project operates.
Goodwill messages received from the OGP Secretariat, NCTO, the Federal Ministry of Justice and the office of the National Social Safety Net Coordinating Office identified the relevance of the MDAs working with ANEEJ towards achieving transparency & accountability in the monitoring and utilization of recovered assets.
An ANEEJ presentation revealed, inter alia, that in the first quarter, project team and financial Systems were up and running, due diligence processes with downstream partners were carried out and there is cooperation with relevant state agencies. Key event in this quarter was the official Launch of MANTRA Project by the Vice-President. The presentation highlighted that in the Quarter 2 there has been Monitoring and evaluation system for Abacha loot utilization has been established, a Training of Trainers for Abacha loot monitoring, Policy Dialogues on sub-national governance in place.
The presentation highlighted the fact that Edo state had signed on to the OGP, with others like Bayelsa to follow. ANEEJ also organised a workshop with Religious and Traditional Leaders, written Policy Papers, Blogs and Other Research works concluded.
Going forward the presentation announced that there will be an on-field monitoring of Abacha loot utilization, advocacy for strengthening legal and institutional framework to continue and be intensified, policy dialogues interrogating key issues, knowledge-creation component to continue in provide research backing for project and documenting lessons, engagement with political parties and political processes in view of 2019 elections.
Presentation 2 – which was made by the National Social Safety-nets Coordinating Office, NASSCO focussed on the targeted mechanism, geographical, community based targeting of the NASSCO and Proxy Mean Testing index principles which the body uses in identifying potential subjects.
Presentation 3 – from the National Cash Transfer Office, NCTO highlighted several aspects of the programme to include its implementation targeted Cash Transfer system, its implementation strategy and the constitution of facilitation team at community level.
Presentation 4 – Asani Wumi, M&E specialist said that holding the system accountable to the standards of the cash transfer processes means that if logistics of a programme are not properly managed, that may ruin the programme.
PANEL DISCUSSION: In a panel discussion titled opportunities for CSOs on transparency and accountability in the recovery and utilisation of looted assets, involving the partners – CIRDDOC, DEC, CSJ, BANGOF, and NISD, partners who initially had less than average experience with assets recovery said that their partnership with ANEEJ changed and were now better placed to participate in the asset recovery drive.
During the second day of the review meeting, M&E expert Asani O.E made a presentation on MANTRA project log frame, achievements and target where she reviewed the project log frame and reported on the achievement of targets as follows:
Strengthened capacity of civil society organizations and citizens for monitoring the recovery and utilization of the looted assets in Nigeria
Using the Two-day TOT for field Supervisors and deputies
- 65 CSO participants (19 Females, 46 males)
- 21 States and the FCT (Abuja, Adamawa, Ekiti, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Borno, Cross, River, Enugu, Gombe, Oyo, Jigawa, Plateau, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, kwara, Nassarawa, Niger, Osun, Taraba)
Increased citizens and CSO participation in engaging Government for transparency and accountability in utilization of recovered loot by 2019
- Over 600 citizens engaged
- 367 CSO engaged
- 29 media agencies engaged
- 8 Government Organizations
- 2 Academia
Increased partnership among CSO for the monitoring of the utilization of looted assets in Nigeria
- 6 CSO partners engaged for the monitoring of the recovered loots as MOU have been signed with the 6 CSO partners
In addition, the project has generated the following publications:
- Policy brief Taking on taking OGP to sub National Level: The Journey So Far
- Assessment of Nigeria Implementation of GFAR and London anti-corruption summit commitment
- Handbook on Role of Citizens in implementation of Cash transfer program
- Research on Assessment of Behavioural Change as an option for tackling corruption in Nigeria
- Policy paper on Institutional Transparency and accountability at sub National Level (BEITI to OGP)”
- Training Module
- About MANTRA brief
- 5 Blog Posts
Increased use of evidence by CSO in support of improved institutional framework at Federal and State level
- Total over 74 media reports with over 7 broadcasts
- Publications/workshops -23 citations
MANTRA communications strategy: ANEEJ Communications manager who made the presentation asked participants to make effort to explain corruption in their local language. Participants made effort to do so in Ibo, Benin, Esan and ijaw languages. ‘The end product of all communication is comprehension’, he said. In the presentation, he gave a background into corruption issues in Nigeria, gaps in utilisation of recovered loot, the MANTRA project goal and the tools for attaining MANTRA project goal. Some of the tools include Press Releases (visual, audio & localised), Articles/LTEs, Syndicated Column Writing, Social Media management/infographics, TV/Radio discussion programmes, Soaps/Documentaries/Music/Dance/ jingles and Newsletters. He then talked about the communication plan, which he gave as:
- Coordination of television/radio appearances for public awareness
- Influencing policy debate with press releases9translated into three local and international languages), op/eds, etc
- (MANTRA) music/dance/theatre to capture interest & engender behavioural change against corruption.
Thereafter, ANEEJ met with project partners, representative of Federal Ministry of Justice, NASSCO and NCTO on the next steps. It was agreed that:
- The pilot monitoring and testing of the tool should proceed within the week of 15th – 19th, October, 2019
- A letter will be written to cash transfer office to notify them of the pilot exercise
- The exercise will be carried out in Cross River and Nassarawa States
- A team of four monitors along with local facilitator would be involved
- Another team will supervise the monitors
- The actual 12 states where the monitoring exercise will take place, will be determined as soon as the disbursement from the $322.5 recovered loot is made
- There was discussion around the number of states per geo-political zone and the total number of states registered on the programme so far. It was believed that more states would have been registered by NASSCO at the time of the disbursement which NASSCO put at October, 2018.
- The delay in the disbursement of the recovered loot was observed and it was resolved that the reason for such delay should be clarified from NASSCO