Strengthening Anti-Corruption and Inclusive Social Reform Initiatives in Nigeria – Nigerian Observer

Last week, our organization organized a 2-day seminar for CSOs and journalists on building advocacy skills on issues of anti-corruption and inclusive social reform in Nigeria. It was tagged Strengthening Anti-Corruption and Inclusive Social Reform Initiatives in Nigeria. It is designed to build the capacity of local civil society organizations to be positive and responsible agents of change in Nigeria.

The Enhancing Anti-corruption and Social Inclusive Reform Initiatives in Nigeria project is designed according to the anchor cluster model adopted by Palladium to promote and engage in anti-corruption policy reforms. This project works with us as an “anchor” organization working with 8 cluster member organizations spread across six states and the Federal Capital Territory. The states are Abia, Edo, Delta, Imo, Ondo, Rivers and the FCT, Abuja. ANEEJ is working with the eight cluster members located in these states, including the FCT, to implement and deliver this project.

The cluster organizations are: 21st Century Community Empowerment for youth and Women Initiative, Abuja; Community Empowerment and Development Initiative (CEDI), Warri, Delta State; Community Heritage Monitoring Initiative for Development, (KAI) Akure, Ondo State; Christian Fellowship and Care Foundation (CFCF), Owerri, Imo State; Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy and Development (FENRAD), Aba, Abia State; Gender Action and Development (GADA) Port-Harcourt, Rivers State; Joint Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) Edo State Branch; and New Apostolic Church Development Center (NCD), Benin City, Edo State.

We view this project as an important one that aims to promote and engage in anti-corruption policy reforms at national and sub-national levels with the ultimate goal of strengthening governance to achieve citizens’ development goals, by especially in fighting poverty and inequality among our people.

It will interest you to know that in addition to the anti-corruption component, the project is also designed to address reforms as well as issues of transparency and accountability within the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and six oil and gas producing states – Abia, Delta, Edo, Imo, Rivers and Ondo. This explains why participation and cluster members were selected in these states.

During the implementation of this project, interventions will include advocacy for the passage/passion of the pending Anti-Corruption Bills, the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS II) and the Amendment Bill of the NDDC law currently before the National Assembly. The project will also support the monitoring and implementation of Nigeria’s international anti-corruption and asset recovery commitments; Commissions for the development of oil and gas producing areas, among others. Our group is currently advocating for the mainstreaming of anti-corruption issues in the discourse of the country’s upcoming general elections in 2023. Some of these are already underway as CSOs have jointly called on political aspirants to mainstream issues fight against corruption in the upcoming general elections during the learning event held in Benin City in April. If you watched Good Morning on NTA last Tuesday, I spoke at length about addressing corruption in elections, we need to move away from the culture and norms that foster corruption and create incentives for those who are unwilling to buy votes, incentivize voters and rig elections.

As you know, the Proceeds of Crime Bill (POCA) has just been signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, which gives a working instrument to anti-corruption agencies such as EFCC, ICPC and the CCB to work collaboratively and address corruption issues in Nigeria. Since POCA was passed and accentuated, there are others on the queue, such as the Whistleblower Protection Bill and the Witness Protection Bill. We should work together to see how our collective effort can result in the passage of these bills and others.

The two-day workshop is specifically designed for CSOs and journalists from project beneficiary states. We want to see how to improve your advocacy skills on some of the issues highlighted above and others needed to advance anti-corruption reforms in Nigeria, as well as to foster transparency and accountability in the management of oil revenues going to the oil-producing states.

After the workshop, we want to see agents of change among us here, who, with the right knowledge having been trained, can use the knowledge gained to hold government to account, advocate and push for reforms and the adoption of other relevant anti-corruption bills pending. This is particularly important because the project is built on the premise that when CSOs and journalists are trained on issues of anti-corruption and inclusive social reforms, and have the knowledge and skills to engage government working collaboratively on existing data, they will be able to conduct evidence-based advocacy for reforms. Second, they can also influence policy development, passage of laws on anti-corruption issues and inclusive social reforms. This is what we aim to achieve with this two-day training and at the end, develop an advocacy plan to support the passage of pending anti-corruption bills and other anti-corruption reform issues and inclusive social.

I urge Nigerians to engage with keen interest in these issues to put us all on the right track of current political economic analysis and how we can collaboratively engage relevant stakeholders at national and state levels to drive key reforms .
Rev Ugolor is the Executive Director of ANEEJ.

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