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By Emeka Nwokocha

Media practitioners in Nigeria, under the aegis of OGP Media, reporting on Open Government Partnership (OGP) at national and sub-national levels in Nigeria have taken steps to strengthen collaboration and inspire in-depth investigative and objective reporting on the commitments of governments (national and states) to the implementation of the principles of OGP.

This was the outcome of the virtual meeting organised by stakeholders of OGP media, on August 19, 2022.

In a communiqué issued by OGP media, the media practitioners, while appraising the role of media in monitoring government’s implementation of the principles of OGP, observed that since OGP Media was created in 2018, “it has not performed its responsibility optimally in the reportage and awareness creation about OGP in Nigeria, and the media practitioners have not taken advantage of their mediums to propagate the OGP principles, despite committing to engage the OGP processes and use their respective mediums to educate the populace and also hold governments accountable.”

The communiqué reads:

“In 2018, the African Centre for Leadership Strategy and Development (CENTRE LSD) launched a national training program for Journalists in OGP-compliant states to complement good governance reporting and hold the government accountable, particularly in the states that signed up to the OGP. The media professionals discussed strategies to increase the benefits of the OGP, promote joining the OGP, and ensure that the promises made in the State Action Plans (SAP) and National Action Plans (NAP), are carried out.

“Nigeria’s signing up to the Open Government Partnership is commendable knowing that the commitment to the implementation of the principles will not only lead to transparency and accountability but will also give the citizens as well as the media the opportunity to actively participate in the processes at the national and subnational levels. Centre LSD was strategic in bringing journalist into the OGP-Media group as way of charting a course for the media to discharge its onerous responsibility.

“There is no doubt that there is a high level of acceptance and progress on the Open Government Partnership (OGP) by state governments, a total of 23 states have so far signed onto the principles in 2022 with Delta, Kogi, Sokoto, Nasarawa, Gombe and Ondo making the latest list of entrants. However, while Delta, Kogi and Sokoto states have commenced the process of establishment of OGP administrative structures and the development of their respective State Action Plan, Nasarawa, Gombe and Ondo are yet to do same.

“Although the OGP-Media platform has been in existence since 2018, the platform has not performed its responsibility optimally in the reportage and awareness creation on the OGP in Nigeria while the media practitioners have not taken advantage of their mediums to propagate the OGP principles as agreed from the trainings in Kogi and recently in Calabar.“

Stating further, the communiqué charged media and particularly the OGP-Media platforms not to depend only on information provided by OGP implementing organizations, but should embark on balanced investigative reporting that reveals the challenges and gaps limiting the achievement of OGP at national and subnational level.

“The communiqué stated, “the dialogue session is worried about the way most of the states government show interest in signing up to the OGP but do not have a commensurate political will to implement the principles in their respective jurisdictions. It was observed that the slow progress, absence and or inactive structures of the OGP at the state levels remain a big concern.

“As pivotal as the OGP is, there are concerns about the sustainability of the platform in Nigeria given that recent history is sn the side of lack of continuity in government policies and programmes from one administration to another.

“The dialogue enjoined the Buhari led administration to work to sustain the OGP programmes beyond 2023 first by an ‘executive order’ and lay the foundation for a legal framework for the OGP.”

The recommendations contained in the communiqué are as follows:

“The government at the national and subnational levels should continue to embrace the OGP to not only achieve its overall aims but to also pave the way for citizens participation as well as service delivery to the people.

“The subnational governments that have signed up to the OGP including the new entrants -Delta, Kogi, Sokoto, Gombe, Nasarawa and Ondo should further demonstrate the political will beyond the declaration of intent made to the Secretariat of the OGP, to ensure the administrative structures of the OGP at that level are established and made functional to discharge its duty.

“The media especially the respective journalists who are members of the OGP-Media group must look beyond pecuniary gains to engage the OGP processes and use their respective mediums to educate the populace while also using same to hold governments accountable. The individual journalist must embark on factual investigative reporting in order to distinguish themselves as joint heirs in the OGP processes.

“The sustainability of the OGP in Nigeria is critical to the campaign for transparency and accountability that the country is in dire need of. Government at the national and subnational level should give legal backing and create budget lines for the operationalization of the structures of the OGP at the federal and state levels.

“The National Steering Committee made up of the state and non-state actor should continue to push the presidency to accept its already drafted executive order and make it a first step framework towards the sustainability of the OGP at the national level while this should be backed by an act of the National and State Assemblies respectively.

“Members of the OGP-Media platform at the state levels should close their ranks, court other journalist to their midst and deliberate on strategies including required to hold the state government accountable for not setting up OGP administrative structures for the implementation of its State Action Plan (SAP). OGP Media Team can only make itself relevant through consistent reportage on the OGP. Therefore, the OGP Media team should use their respective media to reach the citizens to propagate the essence and benefits of the OGP in Nigeria. It is only through continuous reportage that media funding can be secured.

“Members should take their role in the OGP seriously and work to achieve the objectives set for themselves during the Kogi and Calabar training by reaching out to the OGP stakeholders across the country for the information they may need.”

 

 

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