Three state governments have formally joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) to implement transparency reforms in Nigeria. The states are Kaduna, Anambra and Kano.
In a formal letter signed by the governors of each state, they indicated their willingness to implement the open government reforms by committing to specific areas that fit their particular local contexts.
Speaking on the development, the Special Adviser to the President on Justice Reforms and Coordinator of OGP in Nigeria expressed delight that states are coming on board.
According to her: “We are delighted to announce that three states have joined the OGP. In the National Action Plan (NAP), which is the procedural document that defines the scope of Nigeria’s commitment areas, a subnational pathway was defined in order to enable the states come on board and we are happy that this is happening. It is the easiest way to allow the reform efforts of this administration to trickle down systematically to the grassroots level. We expect that many other states will follow’.
Recall that the federal government signed unto the OGP in July 2016. Within Nigeria’s Open Government Partnership National Action Plan, fourteen different commitment areas were co-created with civil society along four thematic areas, which include fiscal transparency, anti-corruption, access to information and citizen engagement. A sub-national pathway was defined which allows states and local governments to participate in the process by defining their own independent but related commitment areas. It became necessary for other tiers of government to become part of the initiative for the expected trickle-down effect to happen. Out of the 36 states in Nigeria, Kaduna, Anambra and Kano will become the first three state to formally sign unto the Open Government Partnership (OGP).
According to the OGP principles, it is expected that equal numbers of civil society (including professional organisations) and state actors will be invited to review these commitments and work to create a State Action Plan (SAP) in the near future.
Commenting further on the participation of states, a foremost anti-corruption activist and Executive Director of African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), David Ugolor, commended the three states that recently joined OGP. According to him: “States are closer to the people and it is important to engage at a level where governments can engage with citizens directly, especially on service delivery. If states begin to participate in anti-corruption reforms then there is a greater potential for improved results across the whole country”.
Adopting OGP reforms, at the state level will among other things improve the reputation of such states and potentially make them the preferred destinations for both donor funds and foreign direct investment. Working with civil society to co-create commitment areas will also increase the participation of the voices of non-state actors for the overall improvement of governance.
There is an indication that the OGP support Unit at the global level is currently working on supporting a new set of subnational pioneers to benefit from opportunities of peer exchange and learning from other implementing countries globally.