Social and development activists in Nigeria have called on the Federal Government and National Assembly of Nigeria (NASS) to grant local governments in the country financial, political and administrative autonomy as a matter of urgency. This call was made on Monday during a one day virtual Town hall meeting on, “Addressing Obstacles to Local Government Independence in Nigeria” organized by Social Development Integrated Centre, Social Action with support from the United Nations Democracy Funds.

Speaking at the event, Comrade Akeem Ambali, National President of NULGE said the major obstacle to Local government autonomy in Nigeria is the lacuna in Section 162(6) of the 1999 constitution as amended; “Each State shall maintain a special account to be called “State Joint Local Government Account” into which shall be paid all allocations to the Local Government Councils of the State from the Federation Account and from the Government of the State”.

Operating a joint account with the state, according to the Comrade does not favour the local government as the state political actors cash into this opportunity for private enrichment. “The heavy corruption, greed and insatiable appetite for immense wealth by state political actors are major obstacles to achieving LG independence in Nigeria”, he said. To address this bottleneck situation, local governments should be funded directly from the federal allocation.

Comrade Ambali suggested a bottom-up approach to governance in Nigeria.  Along with financial autonomy, the local government should be given political and administrative autonomy. Rather than the state electoral commissions, Independent National Election Commission (INEC) should be allowed to conduct unbiased and transparent elections for local governments.

He further stressed the need for community policing and the entrenchment of Local Government Service Commission to ensure quality assurance and a proper audit system in LG operations. These strategies would not only break LGs from the shackles of the state governments but also strengthen democracy tenets in Nigeria and create employment opportunities at the grassroots, Comrade Ambali asserted.

In her summation, Comrade Hauwa Mustapha, a development activist, said it is sad to note that the local governments are seen as appendages to the states, rather than as a tier of government. This dis-functionality has led to a breakdown of governance and facilities, reduction in human capital and extreme poverty at the grassroots. She, therefore, called for a proper definition in the constitution on the roles and power of local governments as a tier of government. She also called for a collective movement for local government autonomy in Nigeria. This movement she stressed will advocate for citizens’ rights at the grassroots, gender empowerment, fiscal and resource control and an accountable Local government system.

Other members of the panel, Barrister Che Oyinatumba of Kubwa Express and Dr Udy Akpan of Youth for Change Initiative also called for behavioural and structural changes in Nigerian local governments. According to them, a lack of accountability in the local government will continue until its structure is unattached to the State.

Participants also suggested that pressure be put on the state Houses of Assembly to assent to bills regarding local government autonomy.

Responding to this, Prince Edegbuo of Social Action said the campaign for local government autonomy continues and hinted that a massive campaign will be launched on Twitter. Edegbuo, therefore, encouraged all to join Social Action and partners in this “storm” as well as other social and traditional media campaigns for local government autonomy. This he believes will give room for accountability of the local government system and improved service delivery.

While the moderator of the event, Comrade Jaye Gaskia thanked panellists and participants for their contributions to the program, he reminded all that local government autonomy is a must and so is inclusive governance. He, therefore, urged all to rise up and defend the local government.





Communique of the Regional Accountability Conference 2022: Beyond the Forensic Audit – Repositioning the Niger Delta Development Commission for Inclusive and Effective Service Delivery



Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) with support from the MacArthur Foundation successfully organized the 2022 Regional Accountability Conference with the theme, Beyond the Forensic Audit – Repositioning the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for inclusive and effective service delivery. The conference, which was held at Visa Karena Hotels, Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, on Thursday, February 24, 2022, was attended by various stakeholders from anti-corruption agencies and committees, traditional rulers, civil society groups, community groups, and the Media.

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At the just concluded Social Action’s Regional Accountability Conference on “Beyond The Forensic Audit”, development experts, anti-graft agencies, duty bearers, academia and community groups have all identified poor oversight and supervision by the Presidency, the Ministry of the Niger Delta and the National Assembly as main enablers of corruption and are primarily responsible for the failure of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to live up to its mandates. This view is contained in the Communique issued at the end of the conference and released to the media by Social Action in Port Harcourt on Thursday 24th February 2022. The conference which aimed at ensuring how effective collaboration between duty bearers, anti-graft agencies, civil society and other critical stakeholders can contribute to repositioning the Niger Delta Development Commission to the path of prudence and accountability, urged the citizens to take up the responsibility of fighting corruption in NDDC by working closely with relevant anti-graft agencies and public institutions like the Bureau of Public Procurement.

Launching of the Citizens report on budget and projects of the Niger Delta Development Commission by the Director Advocacy of Social Action flanked by dignitaries from the public and private sectors

While presenting the welcome address, Vivian Bellonwu of Social Action noted that the NDDC has lost its purpose of creation and has failed to keep up with its social contract. She, therefore, calls for all hands to be on deck to bring about a complete overhauling of the NDDC system. In the same vein, the Public Relations Officer of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),  representing the Zonal Commandant, Mr. Dele Oyewole noted that “there is no way we can achieve effective service delivery in NDDC without the participation of everybody in the Niger Delta”. He emphasized the need for public ownership of the fight against corruption, citing the fact that abandoned projects are sited in environments where people lives and so should collaborate with relevant authorities to end the menace posed by corruption. Corroborating the statement of the EFCC representative, Mrs. Ekere Usieri, the Zonal Director of Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC) affirmed that her agency is willing to work with the citizens and the NDDC to put an end to the deep-rooted level of corruption in the NDDC.

While presenting a paper on Strengthening Service Delivery through Effective Procurement Process in Public Institution, the representative of the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Procurement, Mr. Adebowale Adedokun referred to the CSOs as credible drivers in the process of strengthening service delivery in the NDDC. He called for a change of approach and the need for citizens to acquire prerequisite skills in carrying out projects monitoring and to stop unscrupulous contractors from stealing public resources.

The occasion of the Regional Accountability Conference was used to launch a report by Social Action, “Pond of Crocodiles: Citizens Report on Budgets and Projects of the Niger Delta Development Commission”. The report contains the analysis of the NDDC 2019 Approved Capital Budget and reports of coordinated field monitoring of NDDC projects across five states of the Niger Delta. The findings of the budget monitoring exercise by Social Action, its partners and community monitors, revealed several issues inhibiting the effectiveness of the NDDC including questionable funds allocations, project abandonment, delay in annual budget passage and over-ambitious and unrealistic projects pursuits, oversight and supervision complacency among others.

While summarizing the findings of the report, the Programmes Coordinator of Social Action, Isaac Botti revealed that some 172 projects were monitored across five states of the Niger Delta, out of which 47% were not existing, 38% abandoned, 22% completed and 4% still ongoing. He further stated that frivolous expenditures in the regional allocation in the 2019 budget of the NDDC amounted to N31 billion. Social Action’s, Vivian Bello while unveiling the report, charged attendees to take advantage of the veritable information contained in the publication to engage the government and the NDDC on inclusive and effective service delivery. She stressed that the report is a detailed, well-researched document with pains-taken field observations that should not just grace the table or shelves in our offices and home but should be used as advocacy tools.

Key recommendations from the report include the overhauling of the NDDC by constituting the substantive board, ensuring open budget and transparency of operations, strict adherence to procurement procedures laws and standards and active monitoring of financial and procurement activities of the NDDC by anti-graft agencies. Others are an improved legislative and administrative oversight of the Commission, strengthened community engagement and participation in budget and project implementation and multi-stakeholder partnership to constantly monitor the activities of the NDDC.

The Conference advised the President Muhammadu Buhari government to take decisive action on the forensic audit of the NDDC and prosecute those found culpable for malfeasance and collusion leading to the abandonment of over 12,000 projects and diversion of trillions of naira meant for the execution of development projects in the Niger Delta.


POND OF CROCODILES contains analyses of the 2019 budget of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as approved by the National Assembly to identify trends and patterns in budgetary allocations. The report also contains findings of participatory monitoring of NDDC projects to determine the level of implementation and the effectiveness of such interventions and their impacts on the social existence of beneficiaries, particularly women and other vulnerable groups.

This report identifies several contributing factors to explain the massive corruption in the NDDC and the failure of the federal agency to deliver on its mandate, revealing that 22% of the tracked projects are abandoned, over 47% are non-existent. So far, the NDDC is only able to complete 26% of its projects while 4% are ongoing.

Read Full Report Here

Freedom Of Information (FOI): Requesting Public Finance Accountability In Rivers State

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State inspecting the Garrison Junction flyover project in Port Harcourt. Picture by the Rivers State government-owned newspaper,

Administrations at the federal, state and local governments always come with new policies, developments and changes intended to showcase its performance in providing the dividends of democracy to the citizens. However, despite numerous infrastructure and development projects embarked upon by the federal, state and local governments areas (LGAs), Nigerian citizens have seen crumbling public infrastructures as successive administrations do not adequately maintain projects.
The administration Chief Barrister Ezenwo Nyesom Wike in Rivers State has embarked on several commendable infrastructure projects, especially in road construction. In the past months, the state has witnessed the commencement of three new flyovers in ObioAkpor and Port Harcourt City Local Government Areas (LGAs). These include the Oro Abali flyover (Garrison Junction), which has been completed and commissioned, the Okoro Nundo flyover (Rumuokoro), and the Artillery Flyover as part of other numerous urban renewal constructions ongoing in Rivers State.

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Social Action And EFCC Collaborate For Public Finance Accountability

The Social Action supported Rivers State Anticorruption Network (ACONET) partnered with Port Harcourt Zonal Office of The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in collaboration with members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to carry out an anti-corruption sensitization walk on Friday, 14th February 2020. The walk, which kicked off from the EFCC office at 8am was aimed at informing the youths on the need to embrace the fight against corruption in the country.

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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.


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.




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.


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.



Anticorruption Radio Programme

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