Theme: Increasing Citizens’ Participation in Niger Delta Development
The 2016 edition of the Niger Delta Civic Engagement Forum (NDCEF 2016) organized by USAID/SACE and PIND was held at Imo Concorde Hotel, Owerri on Tuesday 18th October, 2016. The event attracted representatives of civil society organizations working across the Niger Delta, as well as government functionaries, community leaders, academics and other citizens from across of the region.
Objectives of the forum
Objectives of the forum included the following:
- Provide a space for civil society and key stakeholders in the Niger Delta to discuss critical governance challenges and proffer ways forward
- Create a forum for positive interactions, exchange and dialogue and promote specific Niger delta engagement by CSOs, government and other stakeholders
- Build wider public awareness/engagement within the Niger Delta for USAID/PIND civil society project and its partners &
- Provide platform for Niger Delta CSOs to prepare their specific responses to some of the issues to be raise at the 2016 edition of NDDF which holds on the back of the NDCEF
A plenary panel discussion on the role of elected officers in increasing citizen participation, Open budgets in fostering development, making Niger Delta Regional Institutions more inclusive and accountable to citizens, women, youth, persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups in the Niger Delta. The panel was made up of Hon. Ken Agbim, Minority Leader Imo State House Committee on Public Utilities; Ken Henshaw, Acting Executive Director, Social Action; Rev. David Ugolor, Executive Director, ANEEJ; Joel Bisina, Executive Director, LITE-Africa; Barr. Chiagoziri Ojiaka, Executive Director, Gender & Child Protection Initiative; & Dr. Otive Igbuzor, executive Director, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development.
Arising from deliberations at the Forum, civil society groups observed as follows:
- That the Niger Delta region has abundant human and financial resources which have not translated to improved standard of living and development of the region
- That the region can only realise inclusive and sustainable development if there is participation by all stakeholders in the governance of the region
- That the he renewed and increasing levels of insecurity in the Niger Delta region can be addressed by an integrated development approach. In this regard, all tiers of government and all stakeholders have key responsibility because the region cannot develop in the midst of crisis and insecurity.
- That the he politicisation of the Niger Delta Institutions such as NDDC, Federal Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and State oil and gas commissions, poor planning and faulty approach to project delivery have posed serious challenges to the delivery of their mandate.
- That economic growth is not sufficient to bring about development in the region without inclusive economic growth. Any approach for development in the Niger Delta should target: Human Development; Justice and Equity.
- That leadership and Empowerment is key to inclusive development.
Consequently, participants at the forum came up with the following recommendations:
- Niger Delta States and Institutions should ensure greater citizens participation in democracy, budget process, policy formulations and implementation. At a minimum, budgets of States, audit and other reports should be published online.
- The Niger Delta States, Institutions and civil society organisations should come together to develop a Marshal Plan for the development of the region and institute a Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for tracking progress in the region.
- There should also be more about development intervention than political intervention to reduce the level of insecurity in the region. Niger Delta States should equally step up their collaboration and cooperation to use development to reduce insecurity in the region.
- States and Institutions in the Niger Delta region should develop strong empowerment projects to meaningfully engage Niger Delta Youths in income generating activities that will increase production in the region.
- Leaders and politicians within and outside Niger Delta region are called upon to desist from recruiting unemployed youths as political thugs but should do more in generating human capital development projects.
- All States and Institutions in Niger Delta region should improve on citizens access to governance information which encourages citizens participation in governance
- States and Institutions in the Niger Delta should design integrated monitoring and evaluation processes that will empower citizens to monitor projects so that the spate of abandoned projects is reduced in the region.
- Civil society groups in the region should develop strategies for independent monitoring of Niger Delta institutions and oil and gas commissions projects
- Niger Delta Institutions, such as NDDC, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, and Oil and Gas Commissions, should do more to earn the trust and confidence of the people by adopting measures to improve transparency, accountability and effectiveness
- All States should be committed to the promotion of social inclusion in governance process to address development gaps facing the region
- The governments of the Niger Delta States need to prioritise youth employment and formulate effective policies that will provide the financial resources to address unemployment and youth poverty in the region.
This Communique has been signed by 76 Civil Society Organizations from across the Niger Delta
Emeka Ononamadu: Citizens Centre for Integrated Development and Social Rights, (CCIDESOR), Owerri, Imo state
Innocent Edemhanria: Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, (ANEEJ), Benin City, Edo State
Dr. Mrs Uduak Okon: Youth Alive Foundation (YAF) Uyo. Akwa Ibom State
Ken Henshaw: Social Action Port Harcourt, River state
Chinyere Ihekaibe: Leadership Initiative for Transformation and Empowerment, (LITE – AFRICA) Delta State
Tijah Bolton-Akpan: Policy Alert, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State