Nigeria signed on to the open government partnership (OGP) as the 70th member in July 2016 with the commitment to deepen institutional and policy reforms. Access to information and citizen engagement are two of the four thematic areas of focus, these thematic areas speak directly to the basis and growth of transparency and accountability in government and public institutions in the management of resources. This is a signal to open partnership between government and citizens; it is a shift from the system of withholding information by public institutions to an era of transparency and participation.
When citizens are able to get regular updates of the activities of public institutions without difficulty either through physical contact with the offices or through an online platform as well as the institution’s willingness to accept that responsibility to account for their activities, then one can say to some extent there is a measure of transparency and accountability in such institutions. Besides it is the responsibility of every leadership to report and be answerable to the people they are serving.
Often at times we hear the word “my organization is transparent and we are accountable” from officeholders while citizens complain of lack of transparency. Objectively, it is sometimes difficult to take sides since there are no parameters to measure both claims. There ought to be some measures that allows for verification and public scrutiny in determining how transparent institutions or organizations are to a certain degree.
The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) has embarked on the use of technology to rate the Niger Delta Institutions (NDIs) and have drafted some sets of indicators known as the Niger-Delta Transparency and Accountability Index, with the aim of promoting efficient, transparent and Accountable Institutions in the region.
These set of indicators is found on the DYNTRA platform measuring the performance of the Niger-Delta Institutions which was launched December 15th, 2017. http://www.dyntra.org/en/ (Niger-Delta Institutions), http://www.dyntra.org/en/transparency-indices/niger-delta-institutions/
The platform also allows citizens access to evaluate these institutions as it offers the Niger –Delta Institutions the opportunity to assess themselves, their activities and update their information.
It currently have 49 indicators grouped under five categories; such as Access to information and public disclosure, Synergy with other NDIs/Niger Delta development agencies and government agencies, Consultation with communities/other stakeholders and inclusion, Transparency in procurement process and Institutions’ integrity. It has seven institutions such as ASOPADEC, DESOPADEC, EDSOGPADEC, ISOPADEC, MNDA, NDDC and OSOPADEC.
These institutions were set up to promote development in the region as a result of the underdevelopment and environmental degradation, the spillover effect from the exploration of crude oil despite the huge revenue it contributes to the country’s economy.
The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) and Leadership Initiative for Transformation and Empowerment (LITE-Africa) while implementing the Strengthening Advocacy and Civic Engagement (SACE) project jointly carried out an assessment of these Niger-Delta institutions to get a deeper understanding of the mandates, policies and activities of these institutions. Both organizations in collaboration with other CSO groups in the different states conducted a citizen’s report card survey on Niger-Delta institutions to get citizens perception on the activities of these institutions as well as allow the citizens to rate their performance. The assessment featured 96 focus group discussions and 44 key informant interviews (KIIs) with 845 community residents in 24 communities in 8 local government Areas and 4 Niger-Delta States of Cross Rivers, Edo Delta and Ondo.
The outcome of the research and CRC was condensed into policy papers and used to engage the respective NDIs. CSOs and communities were trained on budgeting, project monitoring and reporting as well as advocacy and engagement.
The Niger-Delta Transparency Index promotes the standard for institutions measurement and enables decision makers to become more transparent.
The first evaluation and the first set of results will be out soonest, the aim is to promote healthy competition among these development institutions, increase citizen participation and knowledge of NDIs activities as well as set a standard of transparency and accountability for public institutions.
Engagement meetings had been held with leadership of OSOPADEC and EDSOGPADEC, they have all accepted the standard of measurement through the indicators; efforts have been made to reach the other five institutions. The Niger-Delta Institution transparency index is an objective standard of measurement that gives room for improvement as it measures in real time the ongoing transparency of each institution.
This intervention is made possible with support from Strengthening Advocacy and Civic Engagement (SACE) a project funded by USAID and Partnership initiative in the Niger-Delta (PIND). The SACE/USAID project has been supporting civil society organizations to influence the development in the Niger-Delta regions and other parts of the country.
ANEEJ believes in improving the transparency and accountability mechanisms of Niger Delta Institutions through civic engagement and effective reporting of the agencies’ activities in Edo, Delta, Ondo, Abia, Imo, Rivers, Cross River States and other States such as Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom in the Niger-Delta region through NDDC and MNDA.
Visit http://www.dyntra.org/en/ (Rank as the Niger-Delta Institutions) or
Sandra Eguagie, Program officer with Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ).