By Lucky Isibor
The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), has appealed to members of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the media in Edo State to collaborate to advocate for the implementation of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) commitments in Edo State.
The Executive Director of ANEEJ, Rev David Ugolor who made the appeal in his remarks at the opening of a two-day workshop for CSOs and journalists on Issues of Advocacy and Campaign around Edo OGP commitments holding in Benin from 19th – 20th November, said the workshop is organised as part of the Civil Society Advocacy to support Anti-Corruption and Rule of Law in Nigeria (CASARN) project.
While enumerating the objectives and expected out comes of the workshop which is being attended by selected CSO operatives and journalists in the state, Ugolor said: “One of the project’s objectives is to support CSOs/Media advocacy for implementation of Open Government Partnership commitments in Edo State as part of effort to improve oversight, transparency and accountability in the management of resources while also targeting corruption prevention measures.
“While implementing the CASARN project, ANEEJ has organized series of workshops and engagements with government agencies in the past ten months covering diverse issues including procurement observation and open contracting; FOI issues and advocacy; budget monitoring and tracking as well as monitoring and evaluation. Just recently, a post-election Edo OGP stakeholders meeting was held arising from the inability of Edo State governor to approve the draft SAP for implementation before the heat of the campaigns leading to the September 19, 2020 governorship election in Edo State. It therefore became imperative to convene the stakeholders meeting considering the fact that governor Godwin Obaseki was re-elected and effort was now targeted at getting the governor to approve the document.
This particular workshop is designed with the following objectives; to review the Edo State OGP State Action Plan (SAP) and identify issues for advocacy and campaign; to design a SMART advocacy plan that will be owned by the participants and used by CSOs to engage government on the implementation of the OGP commitments, to design a SMART communication plan that will be owned by the participants and used by CSOs to advance the implementation of the OGP commitments.”
While elaborating on why the work was designed for members of CSOs and journalists in the state the ANEEJ Executive Director pointed out that, ” Edo State government signed on to the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in 2018 and has committed to a transparent, accountable and participatory government.
“The State Action Plan (SAP) has been developed and is currently before the government for approval. In the draft OGP State Action Plan, concrete commitments were proposed for implementation across five thematic areas, namely: fiscal transparency, anti-corruption, service delivery and inclusion, access to information and citizen engagement.
“The Civil Society Advocacy to Support Anti-corruption and Rule of Law in Nigeria (CASARN) project has been designed to drive the issues captured in the OGP State Action Plan. Activities are built around the demand side with CSOs and Journalists being the key target, while also collaborating with government to deliver on some initiatives. This explains why we invited mainly CSOs and Journalists to this workshop.
The workshop will provide the context that will ease participants’ understanding of the issues which will help them to design an advocacy plan and a communications plan. So, at the end of the workshop, it is expected that CSOs will be able to design and own the advocacy plan and communications plan and be able to drive the implementation of OGP commitments in Edo State.
The CASARN project is the civil societies component of the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption, RoLAC programme funded by the European Union and implemented by the British Council.
Ugolor expressed the appreciation of ANEEJ to RoLAC for making it possible for it to receive funding for the project while thanking the European Union and the British Council for funding ANEEJ work.