Participants at alliance building workshop on Open Government Partnership held in Uyo.

Abasifreke Effiong

The Niger Delta Open Government Observatory (NOGO) Cluster comprising civil society organisations, media organisations, leading labour unions and community-based across the Niger Delta has called on State governments that are yet to sign the Open Government Partnership to do so without further delay.

The NOGO project was launched about six years ago in Asaba, Delta state as a collaborative project between Policy Alert, Social Action, and We The People, however, more groups are joining the demand for States governments in the Niger Delta to sign the OGP.

Members of the cluster who converged in Uyo on Thursday 15th December for a-one day day alliance building and strategy session for non-state actors, expressed concerned over the continued refusal of Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Cross River, and Bayelsa States to sign the OGP which seeks to encourage openness, transparency and accountability in governance through co-creation, citizens’ participation and technological innovations.

The NOGO cluster noted that despite presentations to the governments of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Cross River State, they were still at stage one of the sign up process.

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The alliance building organised by Policy Alert with support from USAID’s SCALE project sponsored by PALLADIUM sought to build the capacity of CSOs, the media and citizens groups to continue vigorous advocacy and engagement with States government in the Niger Delta to sign on to the Open Government Partnership.

The Executive Director of Policy Alert, Mr. Tijah Akpan, said OGP has not only become a necessity but an existential part of life because of the paradox of poverty in the resource-rich region, hence the need to build alliance for strong advocacy across the region.

Akpan said he has observed that open governance has been a bit more difficult to achieve in cash-rich States, saying the rich States in the Niger Delta were unwilling to open up governance for citizens participation, calling on citizen groups to build stronger alliances to engage the governments on the need to open up their operations for citizens’ participation.

More groups call on Governors in Niger Delta to sign Open Government Partnership Non-state actors during the alliance building session on OGP organised by Policy Alert.

“Open Government in Niger Delta has not only become a necessity but an existential part of life. The region is at the lowest percentage of development in the country, sometimes the percentages are below national average. So, there is this paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty. The issue is that governments are not transparent, accountable and citizens do not have a voice in what is happening.

“We need to strengthen partnership, we need to come up with workable strategies for open government. We need to build a cross-cutting alliance on open governance across the Niger Delta”, Akpan said.

In his presentation on “OGP implementation in Nigeria – Key concepts, issues and state of play”, Uchenna Arisukwu, said OGP should be treated as a serious issues such that states without OGP and action plan should be tried for crime against humanity.

The alliance building workshop received presentation on “Mapping progress and gaps on OGP implementation in the Niger Delta” by Koko Udo.

The session featured experience sharing and alliance building by all clusters and group work where participants developed a draft guidance note/framework for OGP implementation in the Niger Delta.