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Nigeria

Implement Permanent Dialogue Mechanism (NG0025)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Nigeria Action Plan 2019-2022

Action Plan Cycle: 2019

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: National Orientation Agency

Support Institution(s): Ministry of Information, Ministry of Communication Technology, Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Justice, Bureau for Public Service Reforms (BPSR), National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and all lead MDAs in the NAP. Freedom of Information Coalition, Budget Transparency, COREN, Lawyers Alert, FIDA, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD), Right2Know, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), FIDA, WANGONeT, Media Rights Agenda, CODE, PTCIJ, PWAN, Gavel, Citizens Connect, NNNGO, Citizen Common, Accountability Lab, Open Alliance.

Policy Areas

Access to Justice, Gender, Justice, Local Commitments, Marginalized Communities, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: Nigeria Design Report 2019-2021

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

Brief description:
In the first NAP, a commitment was made to develop a Permanent Dialogue Mechanism (PDM) which was achieved. The framework recognised that citizens play a critical role in advocating and helping to make public institutions more transparent, accountable and contributing innovative solutions to complex development challenges. The framework proposed various activities in several platforms in the nationally organised PDM (Local Government Assembly, Peace and Security Platform, Town Hall Meetings and Civil Society roundtable); sectorally organized-PDMs led by MDAs, and citizens-led PDM across organisations, demographic platforms, media platforms, research institutions and social media.

General problem:
• Non-inclusiveness of citizens in the governance process
• Paucity of knowledge about governance activities by citizens
• The apathy of citizens concerning governance issues
• Poor knowledge of existing citizens’ rights
• Lack of access to government data
• No strategic communication and good feedback by government
• Mistrust by citizens

Specific OGP issue:
1. Decreasing public integrity
2. Low public participation
3. Poor service delivery

Rationale for the commitment:
To improve citizens’ participation in governance and government’s responsiveness to citizens needs

Main objective:
• To improve citizens’ participation in governance and make government more responsive to their priorities in service delivery
• To build mutual trust and confidence between government and citizens
• To promote improved service delivery

Anticipated impact:
Improved service delivery to citizens

See action plan for milestone activities

IRM Midterm Status Summary

11. Implement the Permanent Dialogue Mechanism

Main Objective

“1. To improve citizens’ participation in governance and make government more responsive to their priorities in service delivery

  1. To build mutual trust and confidence between government and citizens
  2. To promote improved service delivery”

Milestones

1.Organise an inclusive Local Government Assembly at least once a year in each of the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria

  1. Hold Peace and Security Platform at least once every year in each of the six geo-political zones in the country
  2. Hold Town Hall Meetings once every year in each of the six geo-political zones of the country
  3. All OGP lead MDAs to develop a process for public engagement with citizens, meet with citizens groups on plans, policies, budget and service delivery issues twice a year
  4. Citizens groups facilitate (Traditional and New) Media discussion on OGP issues monthly
  5. Citizens participation in public hearing
  6. Hold public engagement and facilitate ease of access to information on judicial activities

Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Nigeria’s action plan at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/nigeria-action-plan-2019-2021/

 

Commitment Analysis

This commitment plans to implement the Permanent Dialogue Mechanism developed under Commitment 12 of Nigeria’s 2017–2019 national action plan. This commitment is one of the National Orientation Agency’s strategic objectives for the 2017–2021 period. [138]

This commitment entails seven milestones offering opportunities for citizen engagement at the local and national levels. Annual activities include holding Local Government Assemblies in Nigeria’s 774 local government areas and Town Hall Meetings and Peace and Security Platforms in Nigeria’s six geo-political zones. According to the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD), NOA plans to convey citizen feedback to relevant MDAs on a regular basis. [139] Under this commitment, activities also include citizen engagement opportunities at OGP lead MDAs, National Assembly public hearings, and judicial activities.

This commitment is relevant to the OGP value of civic participation because it seeks to provide opportunities for citizens to engage with MDAs and discuss governance and security issues at assemblies, town hall meetings, platforms, and public hearings. The commitment is also relevant to the OGP value of access to information because it aims to improve access to information on judicial activities.

If fully implemented, this commitment could have a minor potential impact on improving citizen engagement and information disclosure. In Nigeria, citizen engagement suffers due to severe public mistrust in the government’s capacity to implement public policy that reflects citizens’ interests. This contributes to anti-government attitudes, like tax evasion and political apathy. [140] Under this commitment, local government assemblies and town hall meetings could allow citizens to have their needs conveyed to the relevant government authorities. There is a need for greater engagement of local authorities and officials with their constituencies given that citizens believe they cannot influence government decisions at the state level. [141] Likewise, engagement with OGP-implementing institutions could improve dialogue. Accountability Lab notes that previous citizen engagement with OGP lead MDAs is lacking in terms of consistent consultations, consideration of citizen feedback, and government action. [142]

Overall, as written, this commitment does not represent a significant departure from existing citizen engagement mechanisms. There have been similar civic participation platforms in the past. [143] For example, National Assembly public hearings have been taking place, including budgetary hearings, [144] and peace dialogues have been organized by government and international actors. Additionally, though this commitment’s main objective is to address citizens’ need for service delivery, none of the milestones envision any specific measures or activities to achieve that. Collecting citizen input is only the initial step in a chain of actions required to improve service delivery. Intermediate steps, such as identifying processes to incorporate feedback into government policy and ensuring policy reforms are reflected in changes in service delivery, would need to be clearly outlined to demonstrate the link between the stated milestones and improved service delivery aims.

For the next action plan, IRM recommends the following:

  • Ongoing consultation on the OGP action plan development and implementation should be embodied in the OGP process rather than as a standalone commitment in the action plan. To achieve a meaningful dialogue, the OGP Secretariat needs to provide a regular forum on the progress of commitments for CSOs, the public, and relevant contact points from the MDAs responsible for the commitments. This needs to be managed in accordance with the OGP’s Co-Creation and Participation Standards.
  • It will be important to incorporate dialogue mechanisms and feedback forums in the implementation of each commitment. This could be accomplished by building on existing good participatory practices.
[138] (Draft) Strategic Plan for National Orientation Agency (NOA) (2017-2021), National Orientation Agency, Federal Government of Nigeria, in http://www.noa.gov.ng/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Draft-OF-STRATEGIC-PLAN-FOR-NATIONAL-ORIENTATION-AGENCY.pdf, p.25; “NOA 5 Year Strategic Plan”, NTA News, 4 May 2017, in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SybTQppsOc; “NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: NOA unveils 5-year strategic plan with value re-orientation top,” PTV online, 1 November 2017, in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGUfsA9pu-0.
[139] Uchenna Arisukwu (The African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development), interview with IRM, 25 June 2020.
[140] “Nigerians do not trust Government,” Stears Business, 6 February 2018, https://www.stearsng.com/article/nigerians-do-not-trust-government
[141] “Research from Nigeria Highlights Need for Elected Officials to Engage Citizens”, International Republican Institute, 10 September 2019, in https://www.iri.org/resource/research-nigeria-highlights-need-elected-officials-engage-citizens
[142] Odeh Friday (Accountability Lab), email correspondence with IRM, 8 July 2020.
[143] (ECP/PERL): Framework for Permanent Dialogue Mechanism (PDM) for open governance in Nigeria (unedited),  Reality News Paper, 26 October 2018, in http://realitynewspaper.com.ng/2018/10/26/ecp-perl-framework-for-permanent-dialogue-mechanism-pdm-for-open-governance-in-nigeria-unedited/
[144] Open Budget Survey 2019, Nigeria, International Budget Partnership, https://www.internationalbudget.org/open-budget-survey/country-results/2019/nigeria

Commitments

Open Government Partnership