By Lucky Isibor
Stakeholders in Edo State on Thursday, November 5, 2020 fine tuned the State Action Plan (SAP) of the Open Governance Partnership (OGP) for onward transmission to the state Governor for approval.
The stakeholders meeting which was organised by the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) and tagged “Post Election Edo OGP Stakeholders Meeting” was attended by State government officials from different Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and non- state actors from civil society organisations and the media.
Recall that Edo State government joined the Open Government Partnership in June 2019. Since then, preliminary sensitisation workshops have been held for both State and non-state actors to improve their knowledge on the OGP process and clarify their roles in the implementation of OGP at sub-national level and drafting of the SAP.
The SAP could not be approved by the governor before the heat of the campaigns leading to the September 19, 2020 governorship election in Edo State. Fortunately, the incumbent governor was re-elected and it has become imperative for stakeholders to review, renew the OGP commitments and get the governor to approve the document.
In his welcome address, the co-chair, Non-state Actors, Edo State OGP, Mr. Leo Atakpu noted that the stakeholders meeting is key in the collective desire to make governance in Edo State open for effective public engagement.
While enumerating the commitments Edo State settled for, Atakpu said: “Edo State settled for five commitments across four thematic areas of Fiscal Transparency, Anti-Corruption, Access to Information and Citizens Engagement.
“In order to ensure operationalisation of this voluntary initiative in Edo State, we deemed it necessary that stakeholders of the OGP process needed cognitive empowerment primarily focused on their roles in its implementation at the sub-national level. Accordingly, sensitisation workshops were organised for both state and non-state actors in June 2019. The workshops also provided a forum for generating ideas on the key areas that would be covered in the drafting of the State Action Plan (SAP).”
Atakpu who is also the Deputy Executive Director of ANEEJ, thanked Westminster Foundation for Democracy and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom for funding the programme
In her remarks, the Edo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, who is also the co-chair from the State Government thanked the organisers and participants at the meeting, assuring that the SAP will get speedy attention from the Edo State Government once the final draft is sent for the Governor’s approval adding that the State government has started the implementation of some of the OGP commitments.
Also speaking, Hon. Justice Joe Acha who represented the Honorable Chief Judge of Edo State, Justice Esther Edigin; called for the involvement of high profile government officials in OGP activities as they are the key drivers of the implementation of government policies in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, (MDAs).
In his introductory remarks, ANEEJ programme officer, Innocent Edemhanria said 76 countries have signed into the OGP while 7 multilateral agencies have keyed into it adding that Edo State government joined in 2018.
The Open Governance Partnership (OGP) is funded by Westminster Foundation for Democracy and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom.