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Nigeria

Permanent Dialogue Mechanism (NG0012)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Nigeria National Action Plan 2017-2019

Action Plan Cycle: 2017

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: National Orientation Agency (NOA)

Support Institution(s): Ministry of Information, Ministry of Communication Technology, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Ministry of Finance, other relevant and support ministries. Freedom of Information Coalition, Open Alliance, Budget Transparency, COREN, Lawyers Alert, FIDA, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development, Right2Know, Nigerian Bar Association, FIDA, WANGONeT, Media Rights Agenda, CODE

Policy Areas

Fiscal Openness, Marginalized Communities, Public Participation, Publication of Budget/Fiscal Information, Social Accountability

IRM Review

IRM Report: Nigeria Implementation Report 2017-2019, Nigeria Design Report 2017-2019

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Citizens can be categorized into different publics like media, private sector, youth groups, women groups, rural and urban communities, traditional institutions etc. and each can be reached through different channels like Information portals, town hall meetings, media roundtable, policy dialogues, focus group discussions and others

IRM Midterm Status Summary

12: Develop a Permanent Dialogue Mechanism on transparency, accountability and good governance between citizens and government to facilitate a culture of openness

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

“Citizens can be categorized into different publics like media, private sector, youth groups, women groups, rural and urban communities, traditional and religious institutions, etc. and each can be reached through different channels like information portals, town hall meetings, Local Government Assembly sessions, media roundtables, policy dialogues, focus group discussions and others”.

Milestones:

12.1. Establish baseline for all the performance indicators

12.2. Institutionalize citizens’ forum in key Ministries and MDAs, like Power, Finance, Transport, FIRS, NEITI, CAC, BPP, etc. at least annually

12.3. Citizens’ engagement activities captured in Ministries’ and MDAs’ budgets.

12.4. Produce a simplified citizens’ budget in at least three major local languages

Start Date: January 2017 End Date: June 2019

Action plan is available here:

Context and Objectives

This commitment will increase civic participation through the institutionalization of a permanent dialogue mechanism between government and citizens. Nigeria has attempted to stimulate public-private dialogue since the early 2000s as a means to achieve growth, reduce poverty, and combat corruption. [158] According to Simon Idoko of the National Orientation Agency, various dialogue initiatives were spearheaded with state and donors such as ad hoc and roundtable meetings. [159] However, no permanent, formal mechanism existed prior to the commitment and ad hoc initiatives depended upon the political will of particular administrations. [160]

In a 2014 study, academic D.A. Falade found low citizen engagement in political processes and decision-making. More than half (57%) of participants in this study were not actively involved in political activities, and there was a strong gender imbalance in the percentage of participants that were active (favoring males). [161] In Nigeria, Falade claims, “politics is seen as a dirty game which must be avoided.” [162]

Prior to this commitment, budgets were only available online in English, inaccessible to non-English speaking populations or those without internet access. [163] When a simplified or translated budget was published, it was usually a CSO initiative. [164] Although English is the official language of Nigeria, many Nigerians use local languages in daily communication. Of Nigeria’s 186 million inhabitants, only about 79 million people speak English; major languages like Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo are spoken by millions of people. [165]

As part of the new permanent dialogue mechanism, this commitment proposes a baseline of performance indicators: institutionalize citizens’ forums in key MDAs at least annually; ensure citizen engagement activities are captured in MDA budgets; and produce a simplified citizens’ budget in at least three major local languages.

The commitment is relevant to the OGP values of access to information and civic participation. Publishing simplified citizens’ budgets in local languages can increase access to information and thus help citizens understand the budget. The institutionalization of citizen forums in MDAs [166] can improve opportunities for citizens to engage in government decision-making processes. Publishing the budget in three local languages can empower more citizens to engage with the government. This can improve their capacity to participate in the budget and implementation process and ultimately in its monitoring and evaluation. [167]

Overall, the commitment is verifiable. Milestone 12.2 provides examples of MDAs where citizen forums will be institutionalized and a timeline (“at least annually”), while Milestone 12.4 gives a specific number of local languages for the citizens’ budget.

This commitment has a potential minor impact. According to Uchenna Arisikuwu of the Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development, institutionalizing citizen forums in key MDAs such as Power, Finance, and the Internal Revenue Service can ensure that the dialogue traditions outlive administrations and are not limited by which political party is in power. [168] The publication of a simplified citizen’s budget in three local languages is also a major positive step forward in terms of opening government. The commitment, however, fails to address the need for formal and informal political education among the general public to convince citizens of the value of participation in political processes.

Next Steps

Future commitments in this area should include:

  • High level participation in the citizen forum and engagement initiatives to improve their effectiveness, so that decisions can be taken forward;
  • Formal and informal initiatives to persuade the public on the value of participating in the permanent dialogue mechanism and community engagement activities; and
  • An implementation strategy that indicates the location and dissemination strategies for publishing simplified budgets, when these budgets will be available, and whether citizens can participate in the forums taking into account the information available in local languages.
[158] See Murtala S. Sagagi, “Public-private dialogue: Myth or reality” (paper presented at the Joint Annual General Meeting of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria held at Royal Tropicana Hotel) (13 Dec. 2007.
[159] See Martins Asuquo, “Citizens’ dialogue on current trends of corruption in Nigeria” (NAN, 28 Apr. 2018), http://www.nanprwire.com/citizens-dialogue-on-current-trends-of-corruption-in-nigeria/.
[160] Simon Idoko (National Orientation Agency, interview by IRM researcher, 14 Nov. 2018.
[161] D.A. Falade, “Political participation in Nigerian democracy: A study of some selected local government areas in Ondo State, Nigeria” Global Journal of Human-Social Science 14 no. 8 (2014) 1, https://globaljournals.org/GJHSS_Volume14/3-Political-Participation-in-Nigerian.pdf.
[162] Id.
[163] Idoko, interview.
[164] See BudgIT’s work since 2011 (Thematic and Research Network on Data and Statistics, “BudgIT empowers Nigerian citizens through open data” (27 Sept. 2018), https://www.sdsntrends.org/research/2018/9/27/case-study-open-data-budgit-nigeria; Edetaen Ojo (MRA), interview by IRM researcher, 9 Mar. 2019.
[165] Joyce Chepkemoi, “What languages are spoken in Nigeria?” (World Atlas, 1 Aug. 2019), https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-languages-are-spoken-in-nigeria.html.
[166] Uchenna Arisukwu (Program Manager, Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development), interview by IRM researcher, 15 Apr. 2019.
[167] Edetaen Ojo (MRA), interview by IRM researcher, 9 Mar. 2019.
[168] Arisikuwu, interview.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

12. Develop a Permanent Dialogue Mechanism on transparency, accountability and good governance between citizens and government to facilitate a culture of openness

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

“Citizens can be categorized into different publics like media, private sector, youth groups, women groups, rural and urban communities, traditional and religious institutions, etc. and each can be reached through different channels like information portals, town hall meetings, Local Government Assembly sessions, media roundtables, policy dialogues, focus group discussions and others”.

Milestones:

12.1 Establish baseline for all the performance indicators

12.2 Institutionalize citizens’ forum in key Ministries and MDAs, like Power, Finance, Transport, FIRS, NEITI, CAC, BPP, etc. at least annually

12.3 Citizens’ engagement activities captured in Ministries’ and MDAs’ budgets.

12.4 Produce a simplified citizens’ budget in at least three major local languages

IRM Design Report Assessment

IRM Implementation Report Assessment

●        Verifiable: Yes

●        Relevant: Yes

o   Access to Information, Civic Participation

●        Potential impact: Minor

●        Completion: Limited

●        Did it Open Government? Marginal

This commitment planned to increase civic participation through the institutionalization of a Permanent Dialogue Mechanism (PDM) between government and citizens. The PDM would be co-created by the National Orientation Agency and civil society partners and implemented across MDAs and levels of government, from local town halls to regional peace and security platforms.

Implementation of the commitment was limited. There is no evidence that a baseline of performance indicators was established, per the first milestone. NOA reached out to several MDAs to request high-level advocacy visits. NOA’s Director General Garba Abari sought to get the support of MDAs’ leadership to include citizen engagement activities in their budgets and institutionalize citizens’ fora (milestones 2 and 3). Meeting requests were sent to Nigeria Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative, National Information Technology Development Agency, Federal Ministry of Transport, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigerian Television Authority, Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, and the Bureau of Public Procurement. NOA noted that there was a low response rate from MDAs but that the agency intends to continue advocating for MDAs to institutionalize OGP activities. [124] The IRM did not find evidence that these meetings led to adjusted MDA budgets or citizens' fora in most agencies.

A Framework for the Permanent Dialogue Mechanism was co-created by citizens and government representatives. The framework was “presented, debated, validated, and adopted” in June of 2018. The framework seeks to shape citizen participation at all levels of government and include both formal and informal civic engagement. Specifically, the framework establishes opportunities for civic participation through (i) community dialogue session in all 774 Local government assemblies at least once a year (ii) peace and security platforms held at least once in the six geo-political zones (iii) one town hall meeting at least once in the six geo-political zones (iv) a civil society roundtable where CSOs can examine government policies, programs, and activities. The framework also calls for sectoral and citizen-led dialogue mechanisms. [125] The PDM will be implemented as part of Nigeria’s second action plan. [126]

Some dialogue mechanisms were held during the implementation period. The Bureau of Public Service Reforms states that it held two citizens’ fora. The first was an interactive workshop with civil society in November 2019 that aimed to gauge CSOs’ perceptions of government service delivery. The second was a forum with micro, small, and medium enterprises to identify challenges and solutions to government service delivery for businesses. [127]

The last milestone was entirely implemented. The Budget Office produced a simplified budget that was translated into local languages. This was also a component of the first commitment. According to Arisiukwu, citizens’ engagement in the budget process increased and citizens provided greater input on budget documents. [128]NOA and civil society partners, such as Centre LSD, also held various OGP outreach activities during the implementation period. These activities included rallies in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State and Abuja and “zonal rallies and roadshows” in Sokoto, Enugu and Oyo. The documents also state that media and civil society roundtables were held in Lagos and Abuja, hosted by the Center for Democratic Governance. While these events possibly contributed to greater public awareness of OGP, they are not directly related to the milestones in this commitment. [129]

This commitment led to marginal changes to access to information and civic participation by the end of the implementation period. In regard to access to information, government provision of a simplified and translated budget broke down the figures and allocations into understandable and appreciable details for citizens. [130] Regarding civic participation, NOA partnered with civil society to lay the groundwork for increased dialogue between Nigerians and their government through various fora. NOA conducted high-level advocacy to convince MDAs to include citizen engagement activities in their budgets and hold citizen fora. Yet the IRM did not find evidence that these visits translated to changes in MDAs’ budgets or citizen engagement practices. Likewise, the PDM framework promises a wide range of civic engagement activities. The long-term impact of this commitment will be determined by whether these engagement activities take place, and whether the government responds to citizen feedback collected through such fora. This commitment has been carried over into the next action plan based on NOA’s survey of citizen engagement needs. The second iteration of this commitment offers more specific milestones that are likely to ease implementation and evaluation. [131] Additionally, NOA’s public and high-level outreach may facilitate implementation during the next action plan cycle.


[124] Information and internal documents provided to the IRM by the National Orientation Agency during the report’s public comment period.
[125] Framework for Permanent Dialogue Mechanism (PDM) for Open Governance in Nigeria. Provided to the IRM by the National Orientation Agency during the public comment period.
[126] Uchenna Arisiukwu (Program Director, CLSD), interview by IRM researcher, Aug. 2020.
[127] Information provided to the IRM by the Bureau of Public Service Reforms during the report’s public comment period.
[128] The Budget Office, “Countryman’s Guide to the 2018 Approved Budget” (2018), https://www.budgetoffice.gov.ng/index.php/countryman-s-guide-to-the-2018-approved-budget?task=document.viewdoc&id=685; Arisiukwu, interview.
[129] Information and internal documents provided to the IRM by the National Orientation Agency during the report’s public comment period.
[130] The Budget Office, “Countryman’s Guide to the 2018 Approved Budget.”
[131] Federal Republic of Nigeria, OGP Nigeria National Action Plan II (2019 - 2021) (OGP, 20 Jan. 2020), https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/nigeria-action-plan-2019-2021/.

Commitments

  1. Participatory Budgeting

    NG0015, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  2. Implement Open Contracting and the Open Contracting Data Standard

    NG0016, 2019, Access to Information

  3. Transparent Tax Revenue Reporting

    NG0017, 2019, Access to Information

  4. Open Contracting and Licensing in Extractives

    NG0018, 2019, Access to Information

  5. Implement EITI Standard

    NG0019, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  6. Establish Beneficial Ownership Registry

    NG0020, 2019, Access to Information

  7. Strengthen Asset Recovery Legislation

    NG0021, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  8. Implement National Anti-Corruption Strategy

    NG0022, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  9. Improve Compliance with Freedom of Information Act with Focus on Records Management

    NG0023, 2019, Access to Information

  10. Improved Compliance with Mandatory Publication Provisions Requirement (FOIA)

    NG0024, 2019, Access to Information

  11. Implement Permanent Dialogue Mechanism

    NG0025, 2019, Access to Justice

  12. Aggregate Citizens' Feedback on Programs

    NG0026, 2019, E-Government

  13. Freedom of Association, Assembly, and Expression

    NG0027, 2019, Civic Space

  14. Enhance Participation of the Vulnerable

    NG0028, 2019, Capacity Building

  15. Implement New Computer Program in 6 Government Ministries to Improve Service Delivery

    NG0029, 2019, Capacity Building

  16. Legal Instrument to Strengthen SERVICOM

    NG0030, 2019, Legislation & Regulation

  17. Citizen Participation in Budget Cycle

    NG0001, 2017, Access to Information

  18. Open Contracting

    NG0002, 2017, Access to Information

  19. Extractive Sector Transparency

    NG0003, 2017, Access to Information

  20. Tax Reporting Standards

    NG0004, 2017, Fiscal Openness

  21. World Bank Doing Business Index

    NG0005, 2017, Fiscal Openness

  22. Beneficial Ownership Register

    NG0006, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  23. Anti-Corruption Informationi Sharing

    NG0007, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  24. Asset Recovery Legislation

    NG0008, 2017, Capacity Building

  25. Anti-Corruption Activity Coordination

    NG0009, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  26. FOIA Compliance for Annual Reporting

    NG0010, 2017, Access to Information

  27. FOIA Compliance for Disclosure

    NG0011, 2017, Access to Information

  28. Permanent Dialogue Mechanism

    NG0012, 2017, Fiscal Openness

  29. Joint Governmnet-Civil Society Legislation Review

    NG0013, 2017, Fiscal Openness

  30. Technology-Based Citizens' Feedback

    NG0014, 2017, E-Government

Open Government Partnership