By Our Reporter
Edo State Open Government Partnership (OGP) has held a 3-day retreat to develop her state action plan (SAP). It held from 8th – 10th August, 2019, in Benin City, Edo State.
The event was attended by over 70 participants from government and non-state actors including the private sector.
Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State at the retreat, which one was supported by Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) with funding from DFI, lauded the joint efforts of civil society organisations for promoting transparency, accountability and citizen participation in governance process.
Speaking through the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Yinka Omorogbe, the governor said: “As government we have since September 27th, 2018 subscribed to (OGP) initiative to improve the ease of doing business; improve compliance of public institutions with access to information, taking appropriate actions to co-ordinate Anti-Corruption activities, promote Fiscal Transparency as well as fascinating better citizens engagement”, Obaseki said.
The co-chair (non-state actors), Mr. Leo Atakpu, appreciated Obaseki for acceding to the advocacy of ANEEJ and other Civil Society Organisations to sign on to the Open Government Partnership.
“Edo State’s signing on to the OGP, in consideration will further entrench Government’s avowed commitment to promoting fiscal responsibility, access to information, respect for the rule of law, creating room for ease of doing business, anti-corruption, and citizens’ engagement.
“As you may be aware, the beauty of the OGP is the coming together of State and Non-State Actors to co-create policies and programmes which would be jointly implemented for the common good of all citizens. This multi-stakeholder initiative, as it were, takes away dictatorship from state actors and reinforces citizens confidence in governance.
“It gives citizens and government stakeholders opportunity to come together to prioritize development programmes that would enhance the welfare of citizens and the public at large. It deliberately creates opportunity to address the problems of marginalized and vulnerable groups amongst us and give them greater sense of belonging while their issues are taken on board the state’s development agendas. This is what we have come to do here these three days.
“As Non-State Actors promoting this initiative, our expectations are usually that we do not only engage with government for the development of these policy documents but that we continue through the process of implementation and monitoring.
“We also want to ensure that government’s projects are open to citizens for monitoring and criticism and we expect the development of citizens Feedback App as it is currently done in Kaduna State. The App does not only allow citizens to interact with government but directs them to the nearest project within their locations to enable them to assess the quality of work being carried out.
The App is flexible in such a way that Monitoring and Evaluation Officers carry out their functions using Android phones to capture projects. The information is transmitted to the Governor in real time, such that the Governor sees what project is doing well and which require intervention to ensure that quality is not compromised. The benefits of OGP are thus innumerable.
“I am glad that Cross Rivers State has followed the Edo example in the South-South of Nigeria to sign on. I like to call on the Governors of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa-Ibom States to also sign on to the OGP, so as to fully open up the oil-rich Niger Delta to global best practices of governance of the 21st century which has the potential of disrupting the old ways that has fueled suspicion, distrust, opacity, corruption, rights violation, fascism and other bad governance practices” Atakpu said.
Earlier, Edo State OGP focal person Mr. innocent Edemhanria, provided summary of the journey so far since Edo State government signed on to the initiative, adding that preliminary workshops were held in June 2019 for state and non-state actors. The workshop was used to enlighten stakeholders on the meaning of OGP, detailing their roles in the implementation of the global multi-stakeholder initiative.
The conference which drew civil society organisations major players across the country signals and ignites a rail of hope for the possibility of openness and transparency in Nigeria governance structures in the nearest future.