Compliance Advisor Ombudsman, CAO collaborated with the IFC Country Office in Nigeria and several leading Nigerian civil society organizations (CSOs) to host an outreach event in Lagos and Abuja on May 17, 2018. The purpose of the meeting—which took place in-person and via videoconference from Washington DC—was to raise awareness about CAO’s role as IFC’s independent accountability mechanism, improve understanding about IFC’s environmental and social policy framework and investment portfolio in Nigeria, and hear civil society perspectives related to development projects and accountability issues in Nigeria. The event, which was co-organized with the African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) and Global Rights, included over 30 representatives from a diverse range of Nigerian CSOs.
The first portion of the three-hour video conference began with a presentation by the IFC Country Manager and environmental and social (E&S) specialists on the country partnership framework, IFC Performance Standards, and investment portfolio in Nigeria. This was followed by a presentation by CAO staff on CAO’s role as the independent accountability mechanism for IFC and MIGA, and how it carries out its dispute resolution, compliance, and advisory work. The discussion was characterized by a frank and substantive set of questions, responses, and comments. Questions for CAO centered on access to the mechanism, who can file complaints, whether CAO can address issues being litigated in local courts, and how CAO protects complainants threatened by reprisals. For IFC, questions focused on the level of IFC engagement with Nigerian civil society, whether IFC would terminate a project due to non-compliance with the Performance Standards, and IFC’s position regarding privatization of state-owned water companies, among other topics.
Eme Essien Lore, IFC Country Manager said that “It was a good opportunity for sharing perspectives on the direction of Nigeria’s development agenda”. Abiodun Baiyewu, Country Director of Global Rights added that “This virtual policy discussion was useful for Nigerian CSOs to better understand the accountability role and work of the CAO in the country.” “This is an important initiative which is part of broader engagement efforts CAO is undertaking with IFC and communities to improve development outcomes for IFC’s investments.” added Osvaldo Gratacós, CAO’s Vice President.
The meeting is part of CAO’s broader outreach effort in the Africa region, and follows similar CAO dialogues in Ghana, South Africa, and Senegal,which took place in December, February, and March 2018, respectively. CAO’s is planning its next outreach meeting with civil society organizations in Kenya. More information about CAO’s work is available at www.cao-ombudsman.org