The Rivers Debate 2019: Promoting a culture of political accountability

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Figure From left to right, Mr Victor Fingesi (ADP), Chief Isaac Wonwu (Labour Party) and Chief Precious Elekima (SDP) on the podium for the River Debate 2019

 

One of the features of the March 2019 general elections in Nigeria was the expansion of the culture of political debates for candidates. Already common to established electoral democracies globally, such debates sometimes involve citizens gathering in close proximity to candidates in town hall settings as the as aspirants discuss their policy agendas and how they intend to achieve them.

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2019 ELECTIONS; EDO CITIZENS MARSHAL OUT LEGISLATIVE AGENDA FOR CANDIDATES

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With the general elections set to usher in a set of political office holders and leaders across the Country, citizens and groups in Edo State, south-south Nigeria, have outlined a set of key legislative agenda for candidates contesting for elections for the various legislative constituencies of the State.
The agenda-setting took place at a series of Town hall Meetings put together by the Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action), in partnership with the Shehu Yar’adua Foundation, with support from the MacArthur Foundation, across the three legislative constituencies of Edo north, Edo south and Edo central of the State in February, 2019.

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ADVOCACY VISITS TO STAKEHOLDERS IN THE ELECTION PROCESS

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SOCIAL ACTION VISITS THE GUBER CANDIDATE OF ACTION DEMOCRATIC PARTY

Social Action with partner organisations paid an advocacy visit to the gubernatorial candidate of the Action Democratic Party at the party secretariat in Port Harcourt. The visit which took place on the 12thof January 2019, was one in a series aimed at meeting with stakeholder of the main political parties and traditional rulers in the state to discuss matters critical to the enshrinement of good governance and accountability using the 2019 general elections as a fulcrum to driving the campaign.

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Figure 1From Left to right- Green Isaac, Peter Mazzi, Victor Fibresima, Achonwa Okogba, Sebastian Kpalap

At the secretariat, the team met with the gubernatorial candidate of the party Mr. Victor Fingesi, a party chieftain, Achonwa Okogba and some party faithfuls.

Mr. Fingesi, while speaking on his vision for the state and why he wanted to contest for the position of the governor said he wanted a peaceful and credible election and would do all it takes on his part to achieve it.

 

The Social Action Team Lead by Peter Mazzi intimated the gubernatorial candidate and the party members of the purpose of the visit which was to ascertain the philosophy of the party as it has to do with good governance through transparency and accountability in the operation of public finance and also citizens participation in the process. He stated further that corruption is one of the reasons the people of the Niger Delta have continued to live in the current state of underdevelopment and affirmed that the interest of Social Action is on the citizens and their ability to make informed decision based on the right information available to them, especially during the general elections.

While responding, Mr. Fingesi said he intends to put the right people and mechanism in place to check corrupt practices and enshrine good and responsive governance if voted into office.

He said the party’s constitution supports a robust representation of women and the youth in governance and promise to ensure that his cabinet is reflective of the objectives of the party if voted to office. He also planned to create jobs by supporting and developing other sectors, order than the oil sector, like agriculture and tourism to boost the GDP of the state.

Top amount the party’s point agenda according to Mr. Fingesi are

  • empowerment of Rivers people,
  • reduction of poverty,
  • provision of standard and qualitative education and
  • food sufficiency through agricultural programmes

 

 

The Social Action Team which also include Sebastian Kpalap and Green Isaac, charged the party to play by the rules of the election, encourage her supporters to eschew violence and vote-buying and make their campaign issue-based.

 

 


ANTICORRUPTION TEAM PAYS ADVOCACY VISIT TO HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS UMEJURU

As part of the campaign by the Anticorruption Network to galvanize support of the citizen for a conscious and concerted effort toward opposing corruption and demanding accountability from their elected representatives, the Anticorruption Network (AcoNET) paid an advocacy visit to His Royal Highness Eze (Amb) Eche A.Umejuru, Eze Okwu Onu Ka Oha 1 of Idu Ogba.

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Figure 1His Royal Highness Umejuru and the Anticorruption Team

According to Green Isaac who lead the team, the Network scheduled the visit to the royal father because if the recognition of the influence of traditional rulers over their subjects and the importance of the traditional institution in shaping views, perceptions and actions.

According to Green, the bane of development in the communities is opacity in the financial transaction of public accounts. Developmental projects meant for the communities often end up in private coffers and so while a few persons seem to be benefiting from such contracts, the majority of people suffer. The results are substandard products or service delivery or even abandoned projects.

While responding, His Royal Highness thanked the team for the courage to come out to speak boldly about corruption when many would either want to benefit from it or at best ignore it. He agreed that a lot of project have been initiated in the past, which either did not see the light of the day or never got completed. He said the people of Idu Ogba are peaceful and law abiding and would vote at the general elections based on the manifestos of the parties

He encouraged the team not to relent in their campaign and promised to help in any way to encourage the campaign. He also promised to carry the message to his subjects, especially the youth.

 

 

The Nigerian Elections and Prospects for Change

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Much is at stake in the country’s sixth election since the post-dictatorship transition

Nigeria’s next general election is set to take place on Saturday, 16 February. The main contest is for the presidency of Africa’s largest petroleum exporter and the continent’s biggest economy—25th globally in terms of GDP. Beyond the presidential elections are contests for powerful governorships of most of Nigeria’s 36 states, as well as hundreds of seats in federal and state legislatures. The winners are assured pomp and circumstance, as political office holders in Nigeria are among the best-paid in the world—not to mention the possibility of illicit gains from oil-fueled corruption.

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Anticorruption Radio Programme

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As part of her Social Action Anticorruption Campaign, Social Action anticorruption network partners featured in a sponsored programme to sensitize the citizens on the dangers of corruption and the part it has played it to ensure the people of the Niger Delta remain in perpetual underdevelopment. The radio programme was aired on Wave FM 91.7 Port from 10 to 10.30 on Friday 25th January 2019.
Issues discussed were the General Elections as a driver for good governance. Citizens were encouraged to begin to interrogate the political actors during the campaigns to know their plans for the citizens on their different areas of interest so they could follow up on their commitments when/if elected. They were charged to monitor the political rallies and note the commitments made by the candidates.
The programme also included audience call-in, where questions were asked and contribution made on the topic by listeners. Callers wanted to know how to engage government officials who have made commitments in the past and renege on them. And what assurance there is that commitments made would be kept and if not, what could the citizens do.

In response to these questions, the network team explained that government officials continue to take the people for granted because the people have been docile each time it happened. They gave Instances where the citizens came out en masse to demonstrate their opposition for certain unfavourable government policies and the government in power had to be forced to reverse them. They insisted that power belongs to the people and the people must exercise it peacefully but firmly.
The resources persons were Peter Mazzi, Sebastian Kpalap, and Green Isaac on behalf of Social Action Anticorruption Network

CALL FOR CONSULTANTS: MULTI-SECTORAL NEEDS ASSESSMENT IN BORNO STATE, NIGERIA

Assignment Description:   Consultants for Multi-Sectoral Needs Assessment in Borno State, Nigeria

Location:                               Borno State, Nigeria

Duration:                              30 days (February/March, 2019)

  1. Background

Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) is a leading Nigerian NGO working to promote resource democracy, social justice and human rights through research and monitoring, education and advocacy in solidarity with communities, activists and scholars. Since 2016, Social Action is collaborating with organisations and researchers in Borno State to build knowledge about, and work towards addressing the immediate challenges and intersections of the ongoing ecological crisis and violent conflicts in the Lake Chad Basin/Sahel region of northeast Nigeria.

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The Pro-Democracy Conference: An Inter-Generational Dialogue On The Nigerian Pro-Democracy Movement And State Of The Nation

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As part of the conscious effort to build a Nigerian nation that works for all its citizens, Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) in collaboration with Africa Centre for Information and Media Literacy (AFRICMIL) and the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) convened a conference of democracy activists to examine the state of the pro-democracy movement since the 1990s. The conference that brought together veterans of the pro-democracy movement and younger activists served as a platform for inter-generational dialogue on the movement for democracy and social change in Nigeria and the state of the nation. The Conference which held at the National Press Centre, Abuja on 13th of December, 2018 had in attendance renowned human rights and pro-democracy activists, civil society groups, former student union leaders, academia, development experts, labour leaders, the media and members of the public.

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Social Action Supported Civil Rights Councils Train Nigerian Police On Human Rights

Social Action Supported Civil Rights Councils Train Nigerian Police On Human Rights

Over the years Nigerian citizens lost confidence in the police because of their engagements in acts of extortion, illegal mass arrests and detention, extrajudicial killings, corruption, unfair and unjust treatments to citizens, sexual harassment to women in detention facilities, unruly behaviors and opting for the highest bidder approach on the issues of bail. As part of an effort to address these challenges, the emerging volunteer organisation, Civil Rights Council has been engaging the police on human rights training in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

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