Many reasons led to the disintegration of the open government partnership (OGP) in Nigeria. The first was with how practitioners understood the OGP itself. Many of them adduced its emergence to David Cameron’s 2016 London anti-corruption summit.
Cameron was not its precursor. For in the early ’80s after Sir Tim Berners-Lee became the father of the internet, he found out he had to make a critical decision on whether or not to make the internet ‘open,’ available for public use or keep it confined for use within the intelligence circles. His eventual decision to allow everyone to access the internet was based on the fact that its openness would dismantle all forms of opacity usually ascribed to governance. From that time onwards towards the dawn of the millennium, there have been meetings among top people in business, politicians, and social circles which took place to examine the idea of openness and what advantage it would bring to governance.
Thus by 2016 when Cameron convened his London anti-corruption summit, two things acted as catalysts for Nigeria to sign on to the OGP. The one was that a Thambo Mbeki Report on Illicit Financial Flows, https://www.uneca.org/stories/high-level-panel-illicit-financial-flows-africa-launch-its-final-report, had said that $50billion leave Africa per annum, a figure that doubled official development assistance for Africa. What made Nigeria’s case a pertinent one was that on the eve of that London anti-corruption summit, Cameron had said that Nigeria was a fantastically corrupt country apparently because more than 90% of its oil revenues were frittered and hidden in safe havens.
So, in not realizing that the OGP idea is a process rather than an event, Nigeria OGP has been unable to use the platform to put food on the tables of Nigerians, https://guardian.ng/opinion/for-ogp-to-put-food-on-nigerian-tables/.
But most importantly for the OGP failure in Nigeria and in countries which practice it is that it completely ignores the input of the lawmaking process. It focuses on a strong individual – a Mr. President or his attorney general, a governor or his attorney general who supervises the thematic working groups with a leading CSO as ‘co-chairs.’ There are no lawmakers.
An equally important reason why the OGP in Nigeria is seemingly in disarray is that it has often misused the right tools. The OGP secretariat has suggested ten tools – local CSO expertise, an independent reporting mechanism, point of contact manual, establishment of working groups, peer exchange, linking with OGP guidelines and a linkage with the SDGs, multilateral partnerships, and the use of OGP webinars – for the establishment of a new national action plan. That has not always been the case, however. These rules of thumb and rubrics are hardly followed.
By Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku
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