Social Action joined other citizens groups in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on 19th April 2018 in peaceful Streets Walk Campaign against soot pollution in the city and other areas of the state. The black soot which has since 2016 polluted the city, the capital of Nigeria’s petroleum industry, is believed to result from incomplete combustion of hydrocarbon and related materials. While government agencies have failed to act against the pollution, residents believe that the pollution originates from asphalt companies, refineries and illegal artisanal refinery operators. In particular, the indiscriminate burning of confiscated vessels of crude oil thieves and destruction of illegal refineries by soldiers in the military Joint Task Force (JTF) contribute to air and water pollution. The protestors called for increased and transparent action by the authorities to stop the pollution.
Social Action’s monitoring of Ogoni communities in the Gokana, Tai, Eleme and Khana Local Government Areas in Rivers State in first quarter 2018 revealed that the actual clean-up of polluted sites has not yet started. The delay is continuing seven years after the release of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Report on the Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland, and two years after the flag-off of the clean-up by the federal government in 2016. Our monitoring in Ogoniland also shows that the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), an agency set up by the Federal Government for cleanup is yet to award contracts for the implementation of emergency measures since the advertisement for the expression of interest by qualified companies in 2017. Thus, the Ogoni people are still without clean drinking water, health audit and other emergency measures recommended by UNEP in 2011.
As part of a conscious effort to foster the development and protection of human rights in Nigeria, Social Action has considered it imperative to support community activists that are creating local Civil Rights Councils in several towns and cities in Nigeria. The Civil Rights Council is an ongoing programme intended to provide a platform for raising political consciousness and acquiring the needed skills to confront the reoccurring instances of gross violations of human rights in Nigeria, especially in the poor neighbourhoods of urban areas and in rural areas.
Citizen groups and representatives of petroleum-bearing community have raised concerns about the inherent gaps and dangers of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), which has been passed by both houses of the National Assembly. As the Bill is fraught with defects in the areas of environmental protection, industry-standard regulation and preservation of the rights, health and livelihoods of local community members, the groups urged President Muhammed Buhari not to sign the PIGB, until the problematic areas were addressed.
As part of ongoing anti-corruption work at the sub-national levels of government, Social Action organised State Level Sensitization Workshops in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria during the first quarter of 2018. The workshops aimed to enhance the capacity of CSOs to understand the budget and to use it as a tool to engage the government on accountability and good governance. Representatives of citizens groups participated in the workshops in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Ondo and Rivers States. Over thirty participants in each of the States received training on budget processes and participation, and strategies for achieving budget democracy and accountability.
By Jonathan Are, Communications Assistant
There has been a massive outcry over the increasing rate of borrowing by the Nigerian government. The Nigerian public debt profile rose significantly between 2015 and 2017. As at June 30, 2015, Nigeria public debt stock was N12.12tr. However, as at December 2017, the debt had increased by over 72% to N21.7trn, a difference of N8.25trn in two years. It is important to note that this amount is more than the entire budget allocation for 2018. Similarly, Nigeria’s spending on debt servicing in the same period climaxed at 34.02% of the nation’s revenue.
By Ndidi P. Anih and Fyneface D. Fyneface
The descriptive name of the scheme, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) hides issues such as whether women were involved in the initial decision making on whether or not the scheme should be implemented in their villages, especially in Cross Rivers State, Nigeria. Here, most women indicated that they did not know about these matters. For those who did know, they said they were not invited to meetings when those decisions were made.
In 2017, Social Action carried out analyses and monitoring of the budgets of the states of the Niger Delta, as part of the process of monitoring development goals and tracking corrupt practices at the subnational level.
A detailed report will be published early in 2018.
Social Action’s budget advocacy activities are aimed at calling attention to the need for citizens to get actively involved in the processes of fiscal governance and engaging the government on incipiencies observed in the budget and the actual performance. Evidence indicates that where this is the case, the performance of governments have significantly improved, thereby enhancing accountability and transparency and reducing corruption.
In the last quarter of every year, Social Action selects up to 150 young activists from different parts of the country to participate in its camp meeting. The Annual Camps are part of Social Action’s programme for Political Education and Mass Mobilisation for Nigeria and have been designed to restore alternative education, build solidarity, and provide skills and tools required to campaign for social change. Discussions focus on the connections between local concerns and global issues and explore alternatives to neoliberalism.
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.