Nigerians are witnessing the starkest economic inequalities, social alienation and political despondency in the history of the country, and this is a product of a corrupt system that has dismantled the economic, social and political foundations of the country. This nauseating development has rubbed off on all sectors of the economy and the downstream sector is not immune to it.

Nigeria boasts of four state-owned petroleum refineries in Warri, Kaduna, and Port Harcourt, yet these refineries have been dormant and unproductive for many years. As a result, the country imports refined petroleum products from other countries like the Netherlands, etc. The saddening part is how the government claims to spend billions of naira annually on the purported maintenance these non-performing refineries. According to report by Business day, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) wasted N604.127bn in maintaining the refineries in 2017, this waste of taxpayers’ money was done without any meaningful output from the comatose refineries and this waste has continued even to present time. It is obvious that these refineries are used as a conduit to drain the national purse.

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Social Action presents the views of members of polluted  communities in Ogoniland who decry the failure of the Nigerian government to provide emergency services such as clean water a decade after the UNEP Report. Ten years after the UNEP found high pollution levels, including scandalous amounts of carcinogenic substances in groundwater in Ogoniland, the Nigerian federal government commenced some water projects in 2021, with implementation slow and tardy.

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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.





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

Synopsis of the CITIZENS REPORT on Budgets and Projects of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)

Synopsis of the CITIZENS REPORTon Budgets and Projects of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is a summary of the detailed Citizen Report on the capital projects embarked on by the NDDC in their 2021 budget.

The report is a simplified, summarised finding of capital projects executed by the Commission in Akwa Ibom, Delta, Imo, Ondo and Rivers States

Read Full Report Here


The intractable dysfunctionality in the Nigerian downstream sector reared its ugly head when the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) through its four consortia of direct sale, direct purchase (DSDP) of refined products came to public knowledge. Through these proxies, the NNPC imported 170 million litres of adulterated petroleum, which led to public outcry and has equally created artificial fuel scarcity and a hike in the pump price. The results are several cases of engine malfunction reported by users of this bad product and an expected hike in transportation costs which is draining the purchasing power of citizens and bleeding the economy. 

It is troubling to know that seven years into this current administration; a government that promised Nigerians change, Nigeria still imports refined petroleum products. A government that promised to fix the ailing national refineries and build new ones has spent and is still spending more funds to sustain the subsidy scam. Nigerians still spend hours in the queue to buy fuel at N200, thereby creating brisk business for the black market that sells between N400 and N1000 per litre. According to Sahara Reports, Abuja residents, workers were stranded as fuel sold for N1000 per litre

Almost 2 weeks into these regrettable events, there is no retribution to those found culpable for this malicious racket, besides the usual retorics. Meanwhile, the President, Muhammadu Buhari doubles as the petroleum minister and still junkets the globe, proffering solutions to other countries problems while his own people suffer. The failure of this government to arrest the situation, carry out a conclusive investigation to bring out and punish culprits that imported this large quantity of methanol-blended petroleum into the country reeks of irresponsibility and lack of accountability to the masses. It further shows how little the government regards the people. The country boasts of four refineries with billions of naira sunk into them for yearly turn-around maintenance, yet no evident result but has remained a conduit for generational corruption by few individuals given to debased appetites. There is a vicious circle of bad leaders, devoid of purpose, that runs public institutions against public interest, presenting the anti-masses face in the governance system while impunity continues unabatedly.

The unfortunate events of importation of dirty fuel, fuel scarcity and other state-sponsored social injustice should not be treated with nonchalance; the masses should hold the government to account. For a government that shies away from transparency and accountability, the masses are the only people to remedy the situation and drive out bad leaders in government. It is increasingly recognized that greater accountability and responsiveness on the part of government can only be brought about by the people.

It is evident that one of the reasons for accountability failures in Nigeria is the unfortunate quality of leaders that represent the people and manage public institutions. The 2023 general election is drawing close, election remains a critical political mechanism that allows citizens to choose their government, and form a democratic political system, and this electoral process determines the quality of political representation. The people must be circumspect on electing people with the capacity and willingness to respond to calls for accountability. Election periods should not be used to self-sabotage, but citizens should begin to see it as a viable means to correct these anomalies and elect leaders that are competent, transparent and accountable.



President Buhari delays again to assent to the Electoral Amendment Act. Photo credit CKN News

Election is crucial to sustaining democracy and it remains one of the means through which the citizens are empowered to elect competent people to lead and to effectively manage resources for the common good and development of the people. It follows that an efficient legal framework and electoral process will strengthen democratic institutions. However, Nigeria’s elections have often been marred by consistent and avoidable irregularities; the defective electoral law in Nigeria has served as an instrument for electoral fraud and subversion of the will of the masses and has over the years produced unsatisfying outcomes. The vagaries of the faulty electoral law have continued to produce far more arbitrariness than the electorates are willing to stomach, hence the demand for amendment in Electoral Act. 

There is already mass demand from a different section of the country for the President to be swift with assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021, which belies the mood of the country as a whole. It is unfortunate that the President would wait to be reminded of his responsibility and its importance to the electoral process before he acts. President Muhammadu Buhari has declined assent for a record five times to the bill, even after the National Assembly had bent over to make amendments to some clauses of the bill, like Clause 84 which deals with the mode of primary election to be used by political parties to select candidates. Some provisions of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 include; early release of funds to INEC captured – clause 3(3), the inclusion of persons with disability – clause 54(2). Others are, legalizing electronic accreditation of voters – clause 47, power to review election results declared under duress – clause 65 and the controversial electronic transmission of results in clause 50. No doubt, these provisions and others will engender a more transparent and credible election in Nigeria.

It is unclear whether the President is willing to sign the bill or not, going by the silence from his office, other than a statement from one of his aids that he is consulting widely. He ought to understand that failure to assent to the bill would not only impoverish the democratic space but also reduce the 2023 general election to an exercise in futility because electoral fraud would persist amidst a faulty electoral law. Repeated decline to assent to the bill is an indication of the unwillingness and lack of commitment by this administration to a free and credible election in Nigeria and assault on democracy. 

We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to show courage and commitment towards improving the integrity of elections in Nigeria by signing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 into law. Nigeria is eager for a more robust electoral space, but refusing assent is nothing but democratic backsliding. The President’s promise of change should be backed up by his assent to the bill which reckons with fundamental values of democracy.

The unprecedented level of public awareness concerning the importance and benefits of the bill and a desire for lasting reform in Nigeria’s electoral law should not be undermined by the President’s refusal to assent and the needless shenanigans, because the will of the people must prevail. A transparent and credible election is non-negotiable if Nigeria must achieve good governance that will lead to sustainable democracy and the development of the country. 



On January 12, 2022, the federal government announced the lifting of the ban on Twitter, which was placed on it due to a perceived attempt by the microblogging site to destabilize the country. This action has been met with mixed reactions from different sections of the country. Seven months ago, precisely on June 5, 2021, in brazen contravention of the fundamental human right of freedom of expression as contained in the 1999 constitution as amended and recognized in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government took its authoritarian style of governing to a new and unparalleled height, shattering every illusion of hope Nigerians had by abruptly placing a ban on Twitter and turning up the dials on freedom of expression and media censorship.

This was protested by the masses as it constitutes a grave restriction on the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people. Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) and members of other civil society organizations also echoed the same concerns. Unsurprisingly, President Muhammadu Buhari-led government has no compunction about this draconic decision to suspend the activities of the micro-blogging site Twitter in Nigeria. Such extreme, restrictive, anti-masses and insensitive decisions are intended to alienate the people whom the current government claims to represent. Citizen engagement and freedom of expression are eternally accepted norms of good governance. Any government that fails to protect them is no less than an autocratic government. The ban affected small businesses and cost Nigeria N546.5 billion, according to media reports.

While the timing of the lifting of the ban bears a political undertone, the shadiness surrounding the conditions met by Twitter raises significant privacy concerns and the absence of independent oversight to ensure that users’ privacy is protected. Announcing the lifting of the ban, the federal government disclosed that Twitter has agreed to all the conditions the Nigerian government outlined. If the privacy of users is tampered with, it may expose Nigerian users to threats, intimidation, and actual violence by the state, something the current government thrives on.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s government and his change mantra are plagued by undeniable contradictions, evident in many anti-masses policies churned out, the Twitter ban included. Given the high-handedness of this government, Twitter should not be bullied into allowing the government access to their backend, sensitive data, or information about users. It would be abused in a way that interferes with people’s constitutional rights and endangers the very foundation of democracy and other factors compatible with good governance. More so, it would further fuel the Nigerian masses’ mistrust of this government.

The Social Action reiterates its stance on the need for open and good governance in Nigeria and is genuinely concerned about protecting and promoting the fundamentals of democracy. Freedom of expression is a fundamental right, and the benefits of a free and diverse society are endless. Good governance and democracy thrive in an atmosphere of openness and accountability. We call on this government to show unadulterated commitment and support participatory democracy by allowing citizens to engage the government in every medium necessary and hold the government accountable. The government cannot continue to gag the masses in the name of “national security.”

Social Action will continue to oppose all forms of suppression and gag designed by this government to alienate and render the masses ineffective. We resolutely believe that good governance is centred on the principles of accountability and transparency, and we will continue to uphold these principles.


Every nation has an abiding commitment to promote environmental justice which includes ensuring the people have access to clean air and limited exposure to dangerous chemicals and impurities in the atmosphere such as carbon particulate matter also known as soot as the case is in Rivers State. But in the case of Nigeria and Rivers State in particular, the state and federal governments have failed to meet that commitment in the past and even in the present. Recently, there has been increased public outcry to the rising level of soot in the state. While this is not new, it once again, has received little or no concrete attention from the state government.
Soot is a mass of impure carbon residue coming from oil exploratory activities in the oil-rich state, especially from gas flaring and illegal oil refineries, also known as artisanal refining. It also contains Sulphur dioxide and Nitrogen dioxide, which cause acid rain when combined with moisture. This has left the state with a major public health and environment danger brewing.

Billowing smoldering black gasous incumbustible particulate matter discharged into the atmosphere by artisanal refiners in Port Harcourt
Billowing smoldering black gasous particulate matter discharged into the atmosphere by artisanal refiners in Port Harcourt

The high atmospheric concentration of soot in the state is alarming. This was the pivot of the April 2018 popular #stopthesoot campaign in Port Harcourt organized by the civil society and other concerned organisation and widely attended by hundreds of citizens in Port Harcourt. The state government had responded by setting up a technical committee led by then state Commissioner for Environment, Professor Roseline Konya to implement the report submitted by the scientific committee. This scientific committee was earlier commissioned to investigate the causes and likely solutions to the environmental hazard. According to the committee, the most probable causes of the soot were discovered to be illegal refining by crude oil thieves and the distasteful act of torching seized crude and refinery facilities of illegal refinery operators by security officers. Other causes include the burning of old tyres, production activities at the fertilizer and petroleum refinery companies, meat roasting with used tyres, asphalt plants, and devious burning of refuse. Unfortunately, according to several investigations and reports, government officials, lawmakers, ex-militants, security personnel, including the military, are involved in the oil bunkering industry. Security guards are thought to be employed by oil bunkering alliances in order to carry out their criminal activities unimpeded.
Medical experts say Inhaling the soot, especially the tiny one of the range of 0.25 microns. penetrates deep into the lungs and can lead to serious health problems including acute bronchitis and aggravated asthma among children and old ones. The particulate matter can also lead to cancer as well as developmental disorders, heart attacks, strokes and even premature death. Speaking at the “Stop the Soot” Conference organized by Rotary International Port Harcourt, Dr. Dienye Briggs elaborated the effect of the soot on even unborn babies and how they immediately start to exhibit respiratory disorders immediately they are born, using his own child as a typical reference. He painted a gloomy picture for the resident of Port Harcourt when he declared that the lungs of a resident who has been inhaling the soot for five years now is darker and more inflamed than the that of an average smoker. Other health complications that are attributable to the soot according to research carried out at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, is the rise in infertility in men residing in Port Harcourt.


#StoptheSoot march in Port Harcourt 2018

Two years after the inauguration of the technical committee and nothing concrete to show as a way of actionable plans except blame trading from the state governor; laying all the faults and responsibility on the Federal Government and her agencies. Repeated calls have been made to the state and the federal government to intervene, but this has received only cosmetic reactions that achieve nothing at elevating the situation which had been on for over five years. This is characteristic of the insensitiveness and inaction of the government.
There is now an awareness hashtags on social media generated and driven by health professionals and activists such as #EndTheSootProblemPH and #StopTheSoot used to draw the attention of the government to this issue as a matter of emergency. Signatures are being gathered and there’s the inevitability of a mass protest against palpable negligence and insincerity of the government. This renewed call must be met with action and speed from the government on a scale commensurate with the need to avoid setting Rivers State on a dangerous trajectory of catastrophic damage to public health and the environment. The social cost of soot on the human health, and on the environment is devastating

Artisanal refining “Kpo Fire” business in the Niger Delta

To tackle and bring an end to this environmental danger and it’s devastating health implications, fast and coordinated action is needed. To guarantee this, both the Rivers State Government and the federal government have the major obligation. Ending illicit refining in the state and taking on every organization engaged is one method to do this. Rather than looking for every occasion to blame the federal government, Gov. Nyesom Wike should show commitment and respond to this call and intervene in a timely manner to protect the people against this environmental health hazard that pose risks to the health of the people.

There should be routine check on illegal oil refining and monitoring of air quality in the state The government should muster the political will and articulate stringent policies and control measures to mitigate this public health nuisance rather than express deep concerns and make bogus promises in elaborately organized government functions. While this is done, cellular, rather than modular, refineries should be encouraged and supported to harness the resources and legitimize these illegal artisanal refineries through training and licensing. If properly done the over 40% component of the crude oil waisted in the coarse refining process could be turned into useful products that could enable these cellular refineries legally purchase their crude oil and pay tax to the government. This would also align with the net zero target which was extensively discussed during the last 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) which held in Glasgow this year. As other countries accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Nigeria must not be left behind; government at the national and sub-national levels must show the political will to protect public health and the environment. The government must act now to put Nigeria on a sustainable climate pathway to protect Nigerians from harmful environmental cum health impacts of soot and environmental related challenges as part of the country’s climate solution.