Collaborative governance has been described as a non-existent element in the quest for accountability in Nigeria. It allows stakeholders in government, civil society organisations, media, communities and the private sector to come together and develop innovative frameworks for development.
In this context, a roundtable discussion themed “Strategic Partnerships for Accountability in Nigeria ” was organised by the UDEME Project of Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ). The talks at the Accountability Roundtable centred on ways to strengthen collaborations for accountability and transparency in public spending by drawing insight from UDEME’s work on capital and constituency project tracking in Nigeria for the last three years.
Keynote addresses were delivered by the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa and Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, who were represented by Osita Nwajah and Hassan Hafiz Mohammed respectively. Various stakeholders also spoke at different sessions and during the panel discussion.
- Participants observed that partnerships among stakeholders for accountability will make a greater impact than working in silos by recognizing individual/corporate competencies for a thriving democracy.
- There are discrepancies in the usage of constituency funds, starting with the nomination of projects without NEEDS assessment, cost attached to a project, insertion of non-tangible projects by legislators and poor execution of projects without value for money.
- Appropriation of funds to non-tangible projects has become an avenue for siphoning money. BCDA developed a mechanism where pictures and recordings from such projects are sent to the organisation, and coordinates of tangible projects must be sent as well to avoid the repetition of projects.
- The sponsors connive with the contractor so as not to perform the job. Sometimes they put pressure on the executing agency to award a contract to a contractor/contracting firm because of underlying interests. In the end, the sponsors send letters of certification that a job has been implemented whereas it is the opposite. Another strategy by sponsors is inserting soft projects in agencies’ capital budgets alongside ZIPs which are difficult to track.
- Participants called on the EFCC to emulate and improve upon what ICPC is doing with the constituency project tracking group where the media and CSOs have been involved from the onset rather than only requesting the presence of the media during media trials.
- The BPP should perform regulatory oversight rather than legislators certification reports. The Monitoring & Evaluation aspect of project implementation and execution is neglected.
- The budget document must be seen as a service delivery document where everyone involved must come together. The legislators should not insert projects at will in agencies’ capital budgets.
- Some participants called for total scrapping of constituency projects, which is not backed by the law and seen as an absolute waste of resources and an avenue to launder money rather than a mechanism for equitable distribution of projects by the federal lawmakers.
- Adequate monetary allocations are not made for some projects thereby leading to the inevitable abandonment of these projects.
- There is usually a disconnect between representatives at both state and federal levels after elections
- EFCC and ICPC unanimously pledged to continue in their line of duty without fear or favour to make sure corruption is nipped in the bud and across the board through enforcement; prevention and public enlightenment.
- Collaboration, investigation and accountability are key for civic engagement, which is exemplified by the ICPC through the Constituency and Executive Project Tracking Group (CEPTG). Positive collaboration between government and civil societies is very important.
- Participants noted that participatory budgeting guarantees sustainability and ownership of projects by community members. This calls for a ‘bottom-up’ where community members are invited to contribute to the budget processes -nomination, execution and maintenance.
- MDAs are encouraged to be more responsive towards Freedom of Information (FOI) requests sent to them by CSOs and individuals as well.
- The functionality of the local government and the link between state and federal representatives must be a focal point of advocacy by CSOs.
- A needs assessment should be conducted before projects are inserted into the budget.
- The National Assembly has the power constitutionally to make laws and ZIPs have been embedded in the Appropriation Act, which is a law and it has to be implemented.
- NGOs must engage more with NASS, executives and community members to ensure that everyone’s interest is captured in the conception, execution and management of constituency projects.
- Quarterly budget implementation report of the ZIPs should be released alongside the Bill of Quantity for CSOs to engage them
- ICPC & EFCC should provide an open document of contractors that have been blacklisted so that they will not be re-engaged leading to a wastage of money.
- A NEEDs assessment and Bill of Quantity documents must be produced before funds are released and this should be an open document for citizens to assess, for transparency and accountability.
- In all agencies, the Servicom and ICPC unit should be strengthened and held accountable for any corrupt practices in all agencies.
Organizations represented at the event:
Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC)
Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC)
Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ)
Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA)
Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority (LBRBDA)
Lower Niger River Basin Development Authority (LNRBDA)
Civil Society Legislative and Advocacy Center (CISLAC)
Center for Fiscal Transparency and Integrity Watch (CeFTIW)
Public and Private Development Center (PPDC)
Kpehegi Community Development Association
International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR)
Africa Center for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL)
She Writes Woman
Connected Development (CODE)
Shehu Musa Yar’adua Foundation
Budget Office of the Federation
You can contact us at [email protected] with the title UDEME Social Accountability Roundtable’.