Recently, the conversation on the need or otherwise of restructuring the Nigerian state has gained renewed prominence in contemporary Nigerian discourse, especially with the emergence of groups seeking various degrees of structural changes, including the Indigenous People of Biafra and the Niger Delta Avengers. In response to the need to interrogate the different contending issues, Social Action and the Claude Ake School of Government, University of Port Harcourt jointly organised the Nigeria Social Action National Conference in December 2017 in Port Harcourt.
Without a doubt, one of the most significant challenges confronting Nigeria is corruption. The stealing of public funds by persons entrusted with public offices and other forms of mismanagement of public resources has unfortunately become a key reference point when Nigeria is in the conversation. By some estimates, up to 80% of public revenues end in the private accounts of less than 1% of Nigerians who are linked to the structures of political power. In the Niger Delta region where most petroleum exploitation takes place, widespread corruption has ensured that most residents in the urban areas and rural communities live in poverty and misery. Countrywide, about 70% of Nigerians live in poverty, as a result of corruption. Consistently on global corruption index, Nigeria ranks as one of the most corrupt countries on earth. The cost of corruption reflects in public institutions that cannot deliver services, dwindling standards of education, international disrepute and embarrassing beggarliness.
The Open Budget Week 2017 of Social Action included activities aimed at educating the citizens on the need to support the call on the state governments in the Niger Delta to ingrain an open budget culture and enshrine the practice of citizens participation in all the phases of the budget cycle. The week-long budget advocacy campaign was targeted on the one hand at ensuring that citizens become interested in fiscal issues while pressuring subnational governments to become more engaging, transparent and accountable in the management of public resources.
In November 2017, Social Action and partner organisation, YARAC organised citizens’ dialogues in Maiduguri and Yola as part of the ongoing effort to identify alternative solutions to social and ecological crisis in north-eastern Nigeria.
Participants comprising civil society groups, development experts, academia, governmental and non-governmental actors have identified the correction of structural imbalances embedded in the socio-economic, political and ecological configuration of north-east Nigeria as fundamental to engendering genuine and lasting development in the region. They said any effort to sustainably re-build the region must incorporate concrete mechanisms for tackling ecological issues while incorporating solid frameworks for socio-economic development and sound governance principles with active elements of citizens-focused accountability mechanisms.
By Isaac Botti, Programme Officer, Social Action, Abuja.
The Nigerian federal government on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, presented its 2018 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly for consideration and approval. The 2018 federal budget is tagged “Budget of Consolidation”, developed to consolidate on the achievements of the 2017 “Budget of Recovery and Growth”. Taken together, the impression is that the government crafted the earlier budget to revamp and stabilise the economy, while the current proposal is to solidify those gains.
On the 1st of November 2017, Social Action joined members of the Umuechem Community in Etche local government area of River State in solemn activities to mark 27 years after what became one of the worst manifestation of oil company and government crimes against the people of Nigeria. November 1, 1990, the community was invaded by members of the Nigeria Mobile Police Force at the behest of Shell, the AngloDutch transnational oil company. In what is referred to as the Umuechem Massacre, the Mobile Police burnt down the entire town and killed everyone they could find.
Ahead of the UN Climate Conference in Bonn, Germany, Social Action organised its School of Ecology and Climate Action in Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria in October 2017. Through this space, Social Action worked with Nigerian communities and civil society groups to advance alternative discourses and popular mobilisations aimed at building community-led platforms for ecological justice in in the country. Specifically, the School of Ecology and Climate Action promotes grassroots understanding of the interconnectedness of livelihood losses, environmental abuses and conflict within the broader climate change discourse; while providing opportunities for civil society and environmental actors to plan and take action towards challenging prevailing climate change and environmental management paradigms.
The text of press briefing on Nigeria’s debt profile and management by the Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action), Abuja, Nigeria, October 19, 2017.
At a National Conference on Public Debt Management in Nigeria organised by Social Action in November of 2015 in Abuja, Social Action presented an advocacy research report on Nigeria’s debt profile and management, including state-level debts. Social Action warned that the indicators emanating from across the economic sectors do not support any further ramping up of debts. We called for action to towards sustained reduction in the debt profile of both the national and sub-national debts.
The leadership and representatives of communities in Cross River State affected by the United Nations programme, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) have called on the Cross River State government to stop further destruction of the Marina and other forests in the state in the name of new city (Calas Vegas) and Super Highway projects.
Isaac ‘Asume’ Osuoka, Executive Director of Social Action reflects on field visits and a Roundtable Conference on the Ecological Crisis and Conflict in the Lake Chad Basin, which held in Maiduguri, Borno State, northeastern Nigeria.
On Saturday, 22 July 2017, Social Action organized a roundtable conference in Maiduguri, Borno State, with a focus on violence and displacement in northeastern Nigeria. The meeting, convened in collaboration with the organization YARAC, was in continuation of efforts to build a pan-Nigerian civil society response to the ecological crisis and violence in the Sahel region. The Maiduguri meeting provided the first opportunity for local civil society activists, academics, and members of the local media and officials of the Chad Basin Development Authority (CDBA) to examine immediate and longer term challenges to resettlement of over two million people displaced by Boko Haram violence in the area.