Role of the Civil Society in the OGP Implementation and UNCAC Review Process

Role of the Civil Society in the OGP Implementation and UNCAC Review Process

On 29 and 30 March 2017, the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice through its Civil Society Advocacy to Support Anti-Corruption in Nigeria organised a 2-day workshop to build the capacity of selected CSOs and journalists on the concept of Open Government Partnership (OGP) and the implementation United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in Nigeria including the second UNCAC review process. The workshop was also for enhancing the capacity of the invited organizations in their policy advocacy and engagement with relevant agencies of government around the issues.

In attendance were around 30 persons from mainly civil society organisations, including focal persons for the UNCAC review and OGP from EFCC, TUGAR and Ministry of Justice who were invited to the opening ceremony.

Highlights of the workshop include, first, the identification and use of red flags to monitor procurement processes session led by the personnel of Bureau of Public Procurement. He used the session to bring to the fore, key processes of procurement from the planning stage to evaluation, explaining how contracts are awarded, how contractors bid and how one can file a petition if not comfy with the bidding outcome. He also displayed to the participants, key pages of the open contracting website portal (being developed) through which all information on procurement and contracting from all federal agencies will be accessed online.

Secondly, there was a session on UNCAC Review Process and Mechanism with focus on chapters 2 and 5 of the convention. Chapter 2 was on Preventable Measures on Corruption while 5 was on Assets Recovery. The role of CSOs in the review process was also highlighted and discussed.

Thirdly and ultimately was a session on the OGP, led by Mr Stanley Acholonu of BudgIT. He used the session to highlight the 4 themes on Nigeria’s National Action Plan (NAP), a plan to be implemented in 2 years. The themes are Fiscal Transparency, Anti-Corruption, Citizen Engagement and Access to Information. There are 14 commitments under these themes with outcomes, indicators, activities, timeline, responsible institutions etc. He also mentioned of the review regime of the NAP and the importance of CSOs to be in either of the working groups. The latter are 7, namely, Fiscal Transparency, Anti-Corruption, Citizen Engagement and Access to Information, Innovation and Technology, Communications and Monitoring and Evaluation. These working groups are made up of governmental personnel and CSOs that meet regularly to access implementation. The roles of CSOs in the implementation include putting pressure and reminding the government of the commitments, carrying off independent review process and providing assistance to the government in the implementation of the NAP.

The workshop was a phenomenal one. I also met interesting participants and elemental stakeholders from several organizations whose group contributions were so helpful, and offside discussions during tea and lunch breaks, I learnt so much from. The OGP process most especially is the hope of Nigeria to get governance right. I hope we realize most of the commitments within the 2 year window.

 

Chambers Umezulike is a Programme Manager at Connected Development and a Development Expert. He spends most of his time writing and choreographing researches on good and economic governance. He tweets via @Prof_Umezulike.

THE PLACE OF MONITORING AND EVALUATION SYSTEM IN DEVELOPMENT GOVERNANCE

THE PLACE OF MONITORING AND EVALUATION SYSTEM IN DEVELOPMENT GOVERNANCE

Last week was one of my best and a good one for democracy as I had the opportunity of participating in a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) training organized by Cloneshouse Nigeria. Pre this training, I had a contracted knowledge of the M&E process (also referred in this piece as The Process) albeit I was quite aware that its skills are amongst the most requested of, in the non-profit development space. The only thing I could remember on M&E was one of my International Economics professor’s comments that inadequate M&E frameworks are one of the problems facing governance in Africa. As someone passionate about knowledge, outstandingly so when it concerns development, my interest and expectations from the training were hyper-raised.

What I did immediately was to seek permission from my boss to attend the training and scan through most of my Masters’ education briefs in International Economic Policy Analysis to probably get a deeper insight into what The Process was all about. I also went online, trying to have a briefing about the theme. Summary of what I picked was that The Process is a key component of policy processes and comes timely in improving and assessing performance of programs, projects, institutions and policies.

The first day of the 8-day training proved to me that I was in the right place. It was held at the Boardroom, on Ganges Street, Maitama, Abuja, and in participation were 9 colleagues in the development space from the British Council’s Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme and PACT Nigeria. The training started by introducing The Process and accentuating its very importance in the implementation of projects. ‘The essence of M&E is to achieve results in programs implementation and for measuring the extent and impacts of  open government, open governance etc. in project implementation,’ said Oludotun Babayemi, one of the facilitators. So, The Process is for enhancing topical and future management of outputs, outcomes and impact of a program. The monitoring component of The Process helps in tracking the program activities so as to adjust deficiencies, while the evaluation component helps to assess the program’s performance after 2 – 5 years of its implementation.

From these were further lectures on the 12 components of an M&E system. According to Oludotun, ‘this is the engine of The process.’ The components encompasses organizational structure for M&E system, human capacity building of M&E staffers, carrying all relevant stakeholder partnerships necessary, communicating processes and performance of the program to relevant stakeholders, M&E plan, costed work plan, routine monitoring to improve performance, periodic surveys, data auditing, database system, evaluation and research, and using information to improve results.

What caught my attention was the configuration of an M&E plan which has the logical framework, data source matrix, budget, information product matrix, information dissemination matrix, managing partnerships between stakeholders and when the M&E system and plan will be reviewed. The logical framework, which remains one of the most important component of the M&E plan and process interested me the most, as it contains the result chain [inputs, activities, outputs (routine monitoring), outcomes and impact (evaluation)]. All of the result chain elements have indicators for measuring them. These indicators have baseline (situation before program implementation accessed during baseline assessment) and targets (quantifiable goals of the different components of the result chain – what the program intends to achieve at each stage).

The evaluation component of The Process was unpacked highlighting the core focus of such, such as efficiency, effectiveness, relevance, sustainability and impact. The evaluation report is prepared through the segmentation and population of the themes and so wise the preparation of data collection tools. According to one of the facilitators, ‘Before you design an evaluation plan, you must study the program framework very intensively to understand roles and partnerships. In addition, collecting data for evaluation report should be from the implementing agency and beneficiaries, and within the themes of Evaluation.’

Data collection for periodic monitoring, surveys and evaluation are exceedingly vital in The Process as it presents the sources of data, publication dates, who does what, budget for the data collection or access and methodology of data collection etc. In addition were exposures to monitoring information system, logical framework, checklist for evaluation planning etc. From this were lectures on the data collection and analysis component of evaluation in M&E – how programs are evaluated. Google forms were used to simplify the preparation of data collection tools, electronic data collection, and it automatically gathers data and input in a database (Google Spreadsheet). The Spreadsheet was so handy for data analysis. We were also exposed to the Kobo tool box for mobile data collection. Microsoft Excel was also used for data analysis. Altogether, as someone that has been battling with using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences for elementary data analysis, the applications/software helped to demystify data analysis.

At the end of the training, I presented an M&E plan for a pseudo program. The plan was for an international nonprofit 2 year program which intends to improve literacy rate in a certain Shikira community from 25% in 2017 to 35% in 2019 through improving primary school enrollment in the community and improving teachers knowledge and teaching skills. The community, with a population of 1,000 with 60% being under 14 children has one of the poorest literacy rates in a State with poor primary school enrollment rate, inadequate number of classrooms and teaching equipment, and lack of skilled teachers. Please find the M&E plan/assignment here. The plan was supposed to make sure the results and objectives of the program were achieved.

This was a phenomenal training and wonderful exposure to M&E for me. Having stated that I started the training with no single knowledge of The Process, I am still surprised about how fast I learnt and how meaningful and interesting the training was. Perhaps, the expansive knowledge of the facilitators, their quality teaching skills and the various M&E System templates used and shared guaranteed this. This was so beautiful to me and I look forward to having the knowledge gained become relevant as I move forward career wise and academically. As someone passionate about economic development and interested in the development sector, I was really impressed. This was beautiful. This was SUPER. M&E really interests me and remains one of the best initiatives or processes in the development sector.

I think M&E training is necessary for everyone in the development space, both in public and nonprofit organizations. Organizations also have to send their staffers for such training. The dynamics of the training are expansive and cuts across the normative operations of organizations. For human capacity building, monitoring and evaluating performance and achieving results in programs and projects, as well as for enhanced organizational productivity, such training is exceedingly important.
Chambers Umezulike is a Programme Manager at Connected Development and a Development Expert. He spends most of his time writing and choreographing researches on good and economic governance. He tweets via @Prof_Umezulike.

Ensuring Open Government on World Bank’s $500 million Health Credit to the Nigerian Government for SOML PforR

Ensuring Open Government on World Bank’s $500 million Health Credit to the Nigerian Government for SOML PforR

[Follow The Money Team, ONE Campaign Africa Country Director and The World Bank SOML PforR Departmental Personnel]

 

In 2012, the Nigerian Federal Government initiated the Saving One Million Lives Program For Results (SOML PforR). It was a program to rollback child and maternal mortality in the country and save an estimate of 900,000 women and children that die each year through preventable causes. The program was also intended to improve immunization and nutritional outcomes across the country and train birth attendants etc. Subsequently in 2015, the World Bank approved $500 million credit for the program. To ensure transparency and accountability in the fund’s implementation, on 2 February of the same year, the Bretton Woods institution invited Civil Society Organizations for a consultative meeting to get their feedback, suggestions and inputs on the program.

Between 2015 and 2016, there was no other such of civil society engagement by the World Bank on the credit, occasioning speculations about what could be happening to the fund. However, around September 2016, the World Bank provided $55.5 million as part of the credit to the Federal Ministry of Health who then gave $1.5 million to each of the 36 states and the FCT. At the receipt of this development, we started tracking the implementation of the one and half million dollars at Primary Healthcare Centres across rural communities in Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Kano, Kogi, Osun and Yobe States. But this been back-breaking following information crisis, confusion, secrecy and anomalous reporting on the fund. As at December 2016, many of the states were saying that they have not received the fund. In addition, it was only Yobe State that gave us their Work Plan for the fund, while other states did not even acknowledge our Freedom of Information (FOI) requests on that.

Several FOI requests to the Ministry of Health and its SOML PforR Department for details on states that have received the fund were never acknowledged. Consequently, on 8 December, 2016, we wrote the World Bank Country Office asking for audience to share our experience with respect to tracking the fund and getting several key details on the fund release dynamics from them. They did not acknowledge or reply our request too. In January 2017, we overheard President Buhari making a pronouncement that the $1.5 million has been released to all the states.

Following these developments, we wrote again to the World Bank on 27 February seeking an audience on the SOML PforR and we were invited for a meeting on 8 March, 2017. In the meeting with the institution’s SOML Program Lead, Dr Benjamim Loevinsohn was impressed that a CSO is genuinely interested in ensuring open government in the implementation of the fund. He briefed us of several developments around the $55.5 million and the SOML PforR itself. He promised collaborations and information sharing with Follow The Money Team to ensure the fund would be clinically implemented to save thousands of lives across the country.

He also used the occasion to comment on Nigeria’s immunization outcome, which was surprisingly lower than that of Afghanistan. The latter has been into political instability for more than a decade. Similarly, Cameroon and Ghana all have better immunization outcome than Nigeria. “The problem in Nigeria has been vaccines supply issue,” said Dr Benjamin. On the $1.5 million, he also stated, “the fund has been released to each of the states and the FCT. I am certain that as at last 3 weeks, about 30 states have gotten access to the fund. The remaining few states have not accessed the fund because they have not met up with some of the fund access regime elements.”

Dr Benjamin promised to discuss with the Ministry of Health over quarterly engagements with the civil society and the media on the SOML PforR implementation.

POLICY PROCESSES AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA

POLICY PROCESSES AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA

A policy is a guideline that governments employ to address specific public or national issues. Several issues concerning economic growth and development are addressed through governmental employment of policies. Issues such as inequality, inflation, budget-deficit, monetary and fiscal instabilities, economic diversification, unemployment, poverty, human capital deficit, boosting manufacturing, rural development, attracting foreign direct investment and many more. This makes policymaking processes as well as implementation exceedingly imperative. Political leaders have over time, used policies to transform their countries and address societal challenges and complaints. Policies are always a response or reaction to several developments and mostly followed by institutional mechanisms for implementation.

For example, Oportunidades [(English: Opportunities) (now rebranded as Prospera)], a welfare program, was created by the Mexican government in 2002, to eradicate poverty through providing cash payments to families in exchange for regular school attendance, health clinic visits and nutritional support. Through this policy, Mexico has been successful in reducing poverty and improving health and educational levels around the country. The program encompasses Conditional Cash Transfer to families to ensure that children attend school and family members receive preventative healthcare. It also includes rigorous selection of recipients based on a considerable number of geographic and socioeconomic factors. It has been considered as one of the most phenomenal programs on eradicating poverty (through it, millions of lives have been transformed) and this has become a model for similar programs instituted in other countries.

The emerged or newly industrialised East Asian economies were able to transform their countries and develop through aggressive, far reaching policies that were geared towards: boosting domestic production (export led growth); attracting investors (through providing an enabling environment: infrastructure, educated and skilled workforce, laws to protect foreign businesses, reduction of corporate taxes to reduce the cost of production and political stability); privatisation to increase private ownership and efficiency; reforming public institutions; managing trade unions to curtail their extreme practices, increase productivity and efficiency; manufacturing and industrialisation; and family planning. These were clear-cut socio-economic policies and through effective leadership, these policies were implemented to the last. These governments also used incentives and subsidies to encourage domestic production. In addition, most of them effectuated public housing schemes and provided subsidies in education and health sectors to counter poverty and inequality. They also effectuated wealth distribution policies after they had created wealth.

East Asian leaders changed the stories of their countries through deep-seated sincerity and commitment to the implementation of these policies, to lift millions out of poverty. They adhered to the full stages of policymaking – institutionalised policymaking – created conducive environment for the policies to thrive – improved governance – provided adequate funding and staff for the implementation of these polices – used experts in policymaking process – supervised implementation – and monitored and evaluated these policies. For instance, in Singapore, the public housing scheme was an initiative to bring together the races: Chinese, Indians and Malays, so as to counter fractionalisation crisis and this worked so well.

African governments have been experiencing enormous challenges in crafting clear-cut policies and implementing them. First, most of the first generation of African leaders were not entirely prepared for leadership, so could not make sound policies to address fractionalisation crisis and economic underdevelopment. They lacked the exposure to understand the importance of coherent and efficient public policies under the counsel of neo-classical counter revolution and how these influence development. What public policy for economic development or social challenge did the likes of Idi Amin, Mobutu Sese Seko and Kamuzu Banda make? None!

Secondly, the military that defenestrated these leaders from power just focused on consolidating power, imprisoning emerging political opponents and embezzling funds. The soldiers joined their predecessors in practices that are against comprehensible policy processes. Practices such as nepotism, favoritism and corruption, while frustrating important themes of development such as industrialisation, external trade expansion, foreign investment attraction etc. The oil boom era saw the concentration of these leaders on primary exports, while some of them got comfy with receiving foreign aid and never utilising it efficiently especially with respect to using it for capital expenditure. Only few made policies on building infrastructure, expanding agriculture and eradicating poverty. So this resulted from bad leadership to bad governance and then to policy crisis.

Albeit, there have been some improvements since the 90s. African governments are still having deep challenges in making comprehensible policies to address several pressing socioeconomic concerns. Most policies were not well formulated or implemented because of weak public institutions, policy reversals, incoherent policies, lack of appurtenant human and material resources and political will deficit from political leaders. Corruption, lack of expertise in policymaking, inadequate funding, poor governance, roadside declarations, political instabilities, poor monitoring and evaluation templates and poor prioritisation of issues are further challenges facing policymaking and implementation in Africa.

Moving forward, African governments should institutionalise policymaking, improve governance, reform public institutions and extend consultation to all the involved stakeholders in policymaking. There should be policies to address several developmental challenges that would be implemented through proper policy implementation mechanisms and with adequate political will. There should also be comprehensive policies on massive attraction of foreign investors and providing an enabling environment for them, as well as on spurring domestic manufacturing and diversifying exports. Policies such as the Mexican Oportunidades should be replicated to address poverty by African governments. In addition, there should be coherent policies on wealth distribution, rural development, assets redistribution (land reforms), provision of public goods and services, infrastructural expansion and rural healthcare programs. Further policies on family planning to address population explosion, as well as on peace-building to prevent the re-occurrence of conflicts that have devastated the continent are exceptionally important. These policies should be implemented with surplus rigour and efficiency.

 

Chambers Umezulike is a Program Officer at Connected Development and a Development Expert. He spends most of his time writing and choreographing researches on good and economic governance. He tweets via @Prof_Umezulike.

Addressing Citizenry Extensive Concerns on the 2017 Budget Proposal

Addressing Citizenry Extensive Concerns on the 2017 Budget Proposal

On 23 February 2017, the Director-General (DG) of the Budget Office of the Federation choreographed a media briefing on several issues surrounding the 2017 Budget Proposal. The DG also used the briefing to make certain clarifications on public outcries over several budget items on the proposal. Most of these outcries were on many frivolous items (especially on electricity and utility bills of MDAs; several humongous expenses on the state house budget on utensils and feeding, electricity bills, travel expenses etc.); repetitions of budget items; budget cycle crisis; the budget preparation expenses; lack of details on some of the items; budget padding etc.

In attendance at the briefing were the media and Civil Society Organizations (CSO). In responding to some of these concerns, the DG took his time to counter some of the claims:

1). He stated that there was no sort of budget padding on the 2017 budget proposal.

2). That there were no frivolous items. That most of the extensive increments such as state house proposed expenditure on utensils and utility bills; electricity bills, security and cleaning services payments in MDAs etc. were either as a result of arrears of such bills/expenses or because funds were not later provided for them on the 2016 budget (meaning they were not implemented.)

3). He stated that there were no repetitions on the proposal, unless the repetitions being referred to were budget items on the 2016 one that re-reflected on the 2017 proposal, which was as a result of the fact that funds were not provided for such items on the former.

4). He reassured the audience of his liaison with the National Assembly to ensure that budget cycle would be from January – December of every year, which was clearly stated on the constitution, as against the culture of having a previous budget being implemented in another fiscal year.

5). He also explained that the details-deficit on some of the budget items were as a result of the perspective to keep the budget simple, for public consumption. That however that his agency would ensure further details on budget items when preparing subsequent budgets.

Representing Connected Development (CODE) at the event, I further engaged the DG and raised concerns over the NGN305/$ calculation on the budget proposal (while $1 is valued at NGN 520 at the contemporaneous market); if there are extensive plans for enhanced transparency and accountability in the 2017 budget implementation; our expectancy to lay hands on the 3rd and 4th quarters’ reports of 2016 budget implementation; his plans to ensure that revenue realization deficit would not frustrate the 2017 budget implementation drawing on the country’s experience with the 2016 one; and getting access to an extensive version of the budget that had further details on some of the line items. For the latter, I mentioned the ‘Talking Sanitation’, as well as ‘Afforestation’ and ‘Tree Planting’ budget items on the proposal, under the Ministry of Environment, which all lacked details such as where and how. Lack of such specific details has frustrated the works of CSOs that are into governmental capital expenditure tracking.

In addressing my concerns, the DG made commitments that were all in line with Nigeria’s commitments on the Open Government Partnership. He stated that the 3rd quarter 2016 budget implementation report would soon be in public domain while the 4th quarter’s would soon be out too. He further stated that there would be increased transparency, accountability and citizen engagement in the 2017 budget implementation. On this, he cited plans to have a digital platform for 24/7 citizen engagement on the budget. He also mentioned that there would be a breakdown on project basis subsequently when funds are released to MDAs. In addition, he promised a quarterly media briefing on the 2017 budget implementation. These were all good news and great outcomes for nonprofits that are into Open Governance advocacy. He mentioned categorically that the revenue realization plan on the proposal is quite realizable and that the FOREX regime crisis would not affect the budget implementation.

This media engagement is a step in the right direction as bringing all stakeholders involved and addressing public concerns on the budget proposal have boosted citizen participation in governance and also provided a platform for clarifications on several portions of the budget, as well as for stakeholders to make suggestions. It is hoped that the Director keeps to all the new commitments he made at the briefing and ensuring extensive open financial governance in the budget implementation. From our part, we are sending an FOI request for an extensive version of the budget, which he promised CODE would be provided with. And before I forget, he commented that he likes our name, ‘Follow The Money.’

 

Chambers Umezulike is a Program Officer at Connected Development and a Development Expert. He spends most of his time writing and choreographing researches on good and economic governance. He tweets via @Prof_Umezulike.