ADVOCACY VISIT TO SOCIAL ACTION NIGERIA BY THE MEDIA AWARENESS AND JUSTICE INITIATIVE (MAJI)

ADVOCACY-VISIT-TO-SOCIAL-ACTION-NIGERIA-BY-THE-MEDIA-AWARENESS-AND-JUSTICE-INITIATIVE-(MAJI)

Members of the Media Awareness and Justice Initiative (MAJI), under her project tagged the Electorate Awake and Participate Project, which is supported by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) paid an advocacy visit to Social Action Nigerian, to seek collaboration for the implementation and demonstration of key policies at the state and local government level of governance.
The visitors were received and welcome by Mrs. Vivian Bellonwu-Okafor the Head of Programmes, Social Action Nigeria and other members of staff at the Abuja office of Social Action on the 19th of November 2019.

Here are pictures from the event.

Mrs-Vivian-Bellonwu-Okafor-Head-of-Programmes-Social-Action-welcoming-the-Guests-at-the-Meeting

”Mrs Vivian Bellonwu-Okafor Head of Programmes Social Action welcoming the Guests at the Meeting”

The-meeting-commenced-with-an-introductory-session

The meeting commenced with an introductory session at about 12noon in a friendly and heartwarming atmosphere. Those present at the meeting from MAJI were, Ikechukwu Ahaka, Onyekachi Okoro, Kentebe, Ifunanya Ezewuzie and Tamunotonye Felix Moses. From Social Action were Mrs. Vivian Bellonwu Okafor, Mr. Botti Isaac and Osuoka Faith Levi.

 

NIGERIA SOCIAL ACTION CAMP 2019: DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA: Building Popular Power from Below

participants-henry

Every year civil society, community-based groups and concerned stakeholders meet at the Nigeria Social Action Camp to study and consider alternative theoretical positions, ideas and skills needed to serve as agents of positive change in various communities in the process of Nation building. The aim has always been to build solidarity for change through collective learning of alternative ideas to the dominant neo-liberal tendencies that currently dominate the Nigerian political space.

This year, the camp held at the Anglican Church Conference Centre, Owerri Imo State from the 12th -16th, November 2019. 

The camp programme teed off with the opening ceremony where the Programme Officer, Arochukwu Paul Ogbonna Esq., welcomed all participants to the 2019 Social Action camp and reminded them of the ground rules for the camping. He reiterated that camp is for learning and encouraged everybody to participate actively in all activities designed for the programme.

While welcoming the participants to the camp, the Executive Director of Social Action, Dr. Isaac Asume Osuoka berated the political class for deliberately stunting development through corporate looting, over-bloated personnel and overhead bills to support and sustain their lavish lifestyle. In the address presented on his behalf by Peter Mazzi, he said the panacea to the dysfunction in what is experienced in Nigeria’s democracy today is building and strengthening grassroots citizen organizations, committed to principles of union democracy. He said it was most unfortunate that the voice of the press and the people have continually suffered shrinking space with policies of successive civilian leaders over the years. He then charged the participants to chat a new democratic roadmap with informed, energized, active advocates and agents of change poised to exert their constitutional rights and open up the democratic space for participation in the social and political scheme in Nigeria.

Camp-Group

Figure 1. Participants at the Nigeria Social Action Camp 2019

In his opening charge, Prof Andrew Efemini of the University of Port Harcourt lamented the poor state of mental and structural development in Nigeria and compared the situation of Nigeria to be akin to the state of nature where life is short, nasty and brutish. He maintained that Nigerians have not expressed themselves through acts of productivity but like apes in a state of nature, have continued to live on borrowed brains and innovations of citizens of other countries. He posited that popular power is the capacity to create popular consciousness and put in place, in a sustained manner, action plans for resisting maladministration and government tyranny and compelling government to become accountable. He concluded that It is important that as the people exercise popular power, they need to have a conception of the kind of society they want to enthrone. Only then can they make progress towards actualising shared ideology.

 

Camp-Gaskia Figure 2.  Jaiye Gaskiya and a cross-section of participants in one of the sessions

Comrade Jaiye Gaskiya added his voice to the charge of the night. He talked about the need for Nigeria citizens to build popular power and develop an appropriate channel with which to give vent to their feelings. He commented on the uprising and different forms of the revolution being recorded in such counties as Bolivia, Hong Kong, Sudan, Algeria, Chile, South Africa. Quoting Mao, he stressed that where there is repression, resistance is bound to happen.

Barr Onyeisi Chiemeke welcomed participants to the 2019 camp and gave a background history of each of the group models and emphasized that the lives of these people, particularly someone like Robert Mugabe, have contributed to sustaining the argument of strong men versus strong institutions. He commented that in all over Europe, the strong men are taking over. This effect is spreading the world over and not even such myth as the rule of law is capable of checkmating the trend. He argued that since the law is not given by God but by men, one cannot really say that all men, including those that gave the law, are equal before the law – as contemplated by the doctrine of rule of law. One’s social circumstances determine how much he can access the law, especially in countries like Nigeria where one would always need to be represented by a lawyer while pursuing his or her legal rights; this is in contrast to what obtains in India where prisoners can write from a prison to the Magistrate covering the jurisdiction of the Prisons and the Magistrate in exercise of his episcopal jurisdiction, would order an investigation to be carried out on the alleged offence of the Prisoner. Where it is established that the offender is not guilty of the charges, the Magistrate orders his/her release.

Prof Nekabari Nna Johnson in his presentation suggested that elected officials focus their attentions exclusively on their own privileges to the detriment of the people. Thus, poverty has been deepened in Nigeria and democracy cannot be sustained in an environment of poverty, neither can weak democratic systems provide for socio-economic development. Poverty has also stripped the people of the capacity to hold the leaders accountable and the lack of accountability has made elected officials less responsive to the needs of the people.

Camp-BridgetFigure 3. A Barr Bridget Anyafulu on  “Sexual Abuse and the consent of the Nigerian women”

In a presentation titled “Sexual Abuse and the consent of the Nigerian women” Barr (Mrs) Bridget gave the definition of sexual violence according to the World Health Organization (WHO) as: any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwarranted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work. 

She stated that sexual violence (which may involve even the male gender) can happen anywhere and is not only about penetration as in rape. It can include other forms of assault involving a sexual organ, coerced contact between the mouth and penis, vulva or anus. She encouraged participants to engage their respective representatives in the State Assemblies to domesticate the Violence Against Persons (VAP) bill which is already in operation in Abuja. The reason was that the VAP takes care of provisions and situations not envisaged by the Criminal Law. 

A goodwill message was presented by Mrs Angela – on behalf of the West African Regional Representative of Rosa Luxumburg Foundation. She commended the resilient spirit of Nigerians amidst the difficulties in the country and Social Action for hosting an impactful and educative 2019 camp. She encouraged them to engage more female participants and Resource Persons, in future camping.

Other resource persons who spoke in the four-day event include Ken Henshaw, Dr. Simon Amadus, Barr Uche Wisdom Durueke,  Mark Oliseh, Peter Mazzi,  Arochukwu Paul Ogbonna, Prince Ekpere and Botti Isaac.

 

The camp program was embellished with educative film shows and documentaries, sporting activities, breakout discussion sessions and group presentations and capped with the traditional campfire.

POLICY MAKERS, NON-STATE ACTORS, CITIZENS BRAINSTORM ON ACCOUNTABLE GOVERNANCE, SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT OF NIGER DELTA REGION.

POLICY-MAKERS,-NON-STATE-ACTORS,-CITIZENS-BRAINSTORM-ON-ACCOUNTABLE-GOVERNANCE,-SOCIAL-DEVELOPMENT-OF-NIGER-DELTA-REGION

See Communiqué and Resolutions:
COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE 2019 REGIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY CONFERENCE; PROMOTING ACCOUNTABILITY IN SERVICE DELIVERY AND PUBLIC FINANCE MANAGEMENT AT SUB-NATIONAL LEVEL. Asaba, Delta State.

PRAMBLE
Civil Society Organizations and other stakeholders in the development of the Niger Delta region gathered in Asaba, Delta State to share information on developments around management of public resources including budget execution in states of the Niger Delta.
The Conference was held at the TopView Hotel in Asaba, the capital city of Delta State. It was a platform for interaction between State actors and the citizenry on issues of budget performance.
The Conference featured Public unveiling of the Citizens Report on the state of Service Delivery in the Niger Delta Region for the year 2018 titled, “Closing the Gap between Intents and Realities.”
In attendance were policy makers, parliamentarians across the Niger Delta region, the academia, anti-graft agencies, Civil Society Organization (CSOs) and the media – investigative reporters. The participants dialogued on approaches to combating the phenomenon of low public budget performance and service delivery at the sub-national levels towards achieving optimal judicious use of public resources and attaining the development aspirations of citizens in these areas.

Read More

CONSTITUENCY, PUBLIC PROJECTS; STATUS QUO CHANGING IN EDO STATE AS CITIZENS, STAKEHOLDERS SUSTAIN SEARCHLIGHT ON PUBLIC STEWARDSHIP.

socialaction_2-copy

Probity and accountability were again brought to the fore in the south-south State of Edo as citizens, civic groups and public thrust-holders in the State converged at a Town Hall meeting on “Promoting Accountable Governance Through Tracking Of Constituency and Public Projects Implementation”, powered by the Social Development Integrated Centre, SDIC (Social Action), with support from MacArthur Foundation.
The Intervention was coming on the heels of growing mass discontent over perceived non-performance and graft around constituency projects allocations and similar projects of public nature.

Read More

Social Action Partners With OrderPaperNG, Launches App For Tracking Constituency Projects Across States In The Niger Delta

Social-Action-Partners-With-OrderPaperNG,-Launches-App-For-Tracking-Constituency-Projects-Across-States-In-The-Niger-Delta

Social Action Nigeria, with support from the MacArthur Foundation has partnered with OrderPaperNG to launch CONSTRACK in the Niger Delta.
The App, a public Accountability tool that provides VERIFIED Information about legislators’ projects being funded by the government across constituencies, allows individuals to be able to directly MONITOR, TRACK and SHARE updates/information about such projects. The App was developed by OrderPaperNG, Nigeria’s premier multi-platform organization dedicated to reporting, tracking and archiving activities of the legislature in the digital age.

Read More

ACONET Warms Up for Litigation Against Rivers State Government Agencies.

aconet

The Anti-Corruption Network (ACONET) Rivers State is preparing to go to court to enforce the Freedom of Information (FOI) request issued on some government agencies for the release of information on the state financial reports and project award by the agencies. The FOI request was made in August 2019 to the Accountant General and the Auditor General of Rivers State for the Auditor General’s and Accountant General’s Reports for the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years. A similar request was also made to the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) for the release of information on contracts awarded by the Bureau in the 2018 fiscal year. Though subsequent follow-ups and reminders were made, none of the agencies responded nor were they ready to release any bit of information as requested.

This informed the meeting held by the Civil Rights Council (CRC) on August 22, 2019 to review the efforts made so far to obtain the requested information and chat a way forward.  Green Isaac Imoh of Social Action decried the manner at which the agencies treated the requests. He bemoaned the consistent opaque disposition of the state and its agencies as it concerns the publication of public financial documents. Barrister Paul Arochukwu, while adding his voice to the displeasure of the inactions of the agencies assured that he would put the required mechanisms in motion and engage the best legal brains to institute legal proceedings to ensure the agencies are compelled to make the requested information available.

 

Green Imoh also informed the members of the Civil Right Council Rivers Conference that 21 projects had been awarded as Constituency projects in Rivers State and funds had been released for their execution. He added that the projects were routed through relevant ministries in the state for execution. It was agreed that letters be sent to various ministries through which these funds were routed for audience as well as verifications of these projects for tracking purposes.

 

 

THE CIVIL RIGHTS COUNCIL AND THE CITIZENS ACTION FOR JUSTICE

mrs rachael paul

The Civil Rights Council, a Human Rights group of Nigerian citizens mostly of rural and sub-urban backgrounds with the support of Social Development Integrated Centre – Social Action carried out series of activities in their campaign for the respect of the rule of law, human rights and justice for deprived citizens in Nigeria.

These activities have become important in view of the incessant cases of human rights abuses by security agencies across the country and impunity by state actors in the hems of affairs in government. In pursuance of the above goals of the political education project, the Civil Rights Council has been embarking on series of educational programs and other activities across many states in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country. 

Human Rights Education and Sensitisation of the Nigerian Police  

In other to reduce the incidences of police brutality across the country as seen in the many cases of extrajudicial killings, torture and unlawful detentions in the country, the Port Harcourt Civil Rights Council took up the programme of police sensitization and education on the issues of the fundamental human rights guaranteed in chapter 5 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended. The chapter enunciates the basic rights of all Nigerians and hence, cannot be denied anyone except by the provisions of the constitution.

CRC-PIX1

Figure 1. Zero Tolerance to Human Rights Abuse organised by the Warri CRC

In an expedition of lectures across the Choba Area Command of the Nigeria Police, the Civil Rights Council group toured six out of the eight police divisions in the command including the Area Command headquarters itself. The police divisions visited were Ozuoba, Agip, Kala, Rumuepirikom, Rumukpakani, Rumuokoro special division and the Choba Area Command Headquarters. With the aid of a guest lecturer at each outing, the CRC was able to engage officers and men of the police force on the need to follow due legal procedures in their daily routine to avoid the numerous cases of human rights infraction.

 

The training process also provided an opportunity for the officers and men to express the challenges and hazards associated with policing in Nigeria and sought the help of the CRC to lead a campaign on issues of their social welfare. The Civil Rights Council made it clear that they will keep in touch for a human right review of inmates and other detainees in their custody. 

Within the period in focus, the Civil Rights Council in Port Harcourt also mobilized the citizens and intervened in one of the cases of an attempt by a police officer to abuse a detained inmate in the Rumuokoro special division of the police force- one Mrs. Mary Ejaigba. The effort of the CRC resulted in disciplinary measures against the officers involved, recovery of money already extorted from the said lady and her immediate release from police custody with apologies from the police authorities.

mrs rachael paul

Figure 2. Intervention of CRC Port Harcourt for the treatment of Mrs Richael Paul who was shot by a security detail to the Chairman of Port Harcourt Local Govt. Area

 

Warri CRC

The Warri unit of the Civil Rights Council joined comrades of Edo Civil Society Organization in protest against the Benin Electricity Distribution Company. The protest was informed by the many cases of monetary extortion by the company from their numerous customers without the provision of Electric power. The CRC together with the Edo Civil Society organization extended the protests to the Federal Government at Abuja, where they lodged their complaints with the necessary government agencies.

CRC-PIX-WARRI

Figure 3. Members of CRC Warri Conference

 

The Warri CRC also carried out a public awareness campaign on the need for a violent free general election in Delta State. This was in response to the citizens’ outcry to stem the tide of violence usually witnessed during elections in the State. The violence-free election campaigns involved rallies, road walks and education seminars.

 

Borri and Abuja CRC

The Bori and Abuja Civil Rights Councils also carried out a series of interventions on cases of human rights abuses in their various units of operation. For instance, the Bori CRC carried out a series of campaigns against incessant cases of police extortion, intimidation and torture in Bori Rivers State often resulting in deaths of innocent citizens in the Area. In one of their interventions, five persons arbitrarily arrested and detained at the state CID were released. The CRC intends to deepen its campaign in the coming months with the hope of providing the platform for citizen’s action for social justice.

CSOS, Ogoni Communities Call For A Better Clean-up Outcome By HYPREP

HYPREP THM

Social Action has been following closely developments in Ogoniland with the publishing of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on the oil pollution and the progress made by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP). The cleanup recommended in the UNEP report has suffered several setbacks as a result of political lethargy, bureaucratic bottlenecks, opacity in the operation of the council and the lack of political will to put in motion the appropriate mechanisms to bring a lasting solution to the degradation in Ogoniland as a result of the massive oil pollution. Several activities have been carried out by Social Action to ensure the cleanup exercise is carried out the recommendations of UNEP and in such a way that the people are not shortchanged and that the clean-up of Ogoni represents a test case for the clean-up of the Niger Delta and the entire Nigerian environment.

One such activity is the town hall meeting organised in Port Harcourt to bring together stakeholders from the affected communities in Ogoniland, civil society, government agencies including HYPREP. The purpose was to re-engage the process to produce a plan of action that would make concrete input into the procedure under CSOs/communities’ increased participation around what HYPREP was already doing. The town hall meeting which took place in Port Harcourt on July 31, 2019 resulted in the issuance of a communique with a far-reaching plan of action and recommendations. Some of the recommendation and resolutions include

  • the collaboration of stakeholders with HYPREP for the agency to succeed in the Ogoni clean-up
  • inclusion of the women as critical stakeholders in the cleanup, considering that Ogoni women depend much on the environment (especially land and water) for sustaining livelihoods (and right to life imperatives) across grassroots experiences.
  • a periodic review of the clean-up process among stakeholders as transparency and accountability measures towards building public confidence over the HYPREP course of action

The communique also observed that the absence of an implementing plan on the UNEP report has precipitated much of the delay that generated confusion about communities’ expectations and what HYPREP has been doing all along. The communique, therefore recommended that due diligence be observed in the cleanup processes noting that if the pilot Ogoni Clean-up succeeds, then the effort to rehabilitate the Niger delta environmentally, can hopefully succeed.

REHABILITATION AND RESETTLEMENT OF DISPLACED PERSONS IN THE NORTHEASTERN NIGERIA IN THE FACE OF THE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

newsletterpic2

There cannot be meaningful development in a state of insecurity and anarchy. The conditions of the North East could rightly be described as nothing less than a state of war. The dreaded outlawed religious group Boko Haram is reported to have started a war with the Nigerian state in the wake 2009 and since then has held many towns in the northeastern state of Yobe, Adamawa, and Borno to ransom. Between 2011 and 2019 territories have been annexed, governance structures sacked, thousands killed and millions displaced. A people who once boasted of being a major supplier of food and agricultural products are now living in displaced persons camps depending on relief from good-minded people from home and abroad for survival. Despite the insistence by the federal government of Nigeria that the militant group has been technically decimated, they continue to cause havoc to the military and civilian population. Between 2014 and 2018, 2800 events and more than 31,000 reported fatalities have been attributed to Boko Haram, making it one of the world’s deadliest armed groups.[1]

 

While much effort and attention have been paid to the fight against the insurgency, not very much attention has been given to the direct bearers of this war. Over 2.5 million people have been recorded to have lived in the displaced peoples camp at one point in time or the other[1]. The displaced persons live under terrible conditions in the IDP camp- conditions that are aggravated by corrupt practices perpetrated by those vested with the responsibility of taking care of them. Instead of being taken care of, they are being taken advantage of. Funds meant to cater for their welfare are being diverted for personal use. There are also records of instances of the rape of young and vulnerable girls by the military, besides the intimidation and solicitation of sex from these girls in exchange for food

.newsletterpic1 Figure 1. Participants at the dialogue to “Repositioning Civic Constituencies for Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Resettlement in the Northeast

Social action has been carrying out campaigns to promote awareness of climate change impacts in the Lake Chad Basin and to encourage accountability in the management of humanitarian and development spending in northeast Nigeria. This is in direct response to the humanitarian crisis that has left over 7.1 million people in Nigeria in need of urgent, life-saving humanitarian assistance. As part of the series of engagements, dialogue and conferences to promote civil society analysis of the humanitarian situation in the northeast, Social Action organised two key dialogue with stakeholders in Borno state in April and July 2019. The conference held on the 2nd of April had the theme “Repositioning Civic Constituencies for Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Resettlement in the Northeast”. The conference sought to open up discussions around the proposed rehabilitation plan of the government with the view to x-raying holistically the content and component of the action plan as well as examine civil society position or perspective. The dialogue also aimed at reviewing CSOs readiness to engage the process to serve as an independent monitoring unit to achieve collective impact.

Social Action program officer, Isaac Botti noted that the crisis is one of the world’s most urgent and complex humanitarian situations and thus the need for participants to engage the theme of the dialogue. He noted that the Federal Government’s plan to move the region away from humanitarian needs to concrete sustainable development is a good initiative if sincerely implemented with the participation of the civil society. He further emphasized the objective of the plan and the need for the civic constituencies to interrogate it, discuss it and come up with a concrete engagement plan and input that will further enrich the document.

In a paper presentation Professor Abubarka Mua’zu, the Executive Director of Borno Coalition for Democrat and Progress (BOCODEP) noted that the process of reconstruction involves partial or total relocation and rebuilding the essential physical infrastructures and shelter.

The conference which had in attendance representatives from the academia, government and non-governmental organisations, foreign and local stakeholders and community groups and persons came to the conclusion that to have an effective rehabilitation plan, there was the need to strengthen community structures to handle mass rehabilitation by involving all stakeholders and imbibed best practices for integration. They also agreed on the need for a serious consultation with other members of the civil society to ensure effective coordination of efforts.

newsletterpic2

Figure 2. Participants at the Stakeholders Validation of the multi-sectoral needs assessment

The conference in July was the stakeholder validation meeting to provide the needed nods and buy-in to the reports and findings from the Multi-Sectoral Needs Assessment. The validation workshop had representations of different categories of displaced populations, host communities and key stakeholders that have good knowledge of critical humanitarian and human rights issues in the northeast, to take the feat of checking or proving the validity or accuracy of the process and results of the multi-sectoral needs assessment. It further helped in identifying missing elements and gaps in the needs assessment findings that were addressed in the final needs assessment report and also deliberated on preliminary emerging messages about priorities of humanitarian interventions in Borno State particularly and the northeast in general

[1] https://reliefweb.int/report/nigeria/new-normal-continuity-and-boko-haram-s-violence-north-east-nigeria