HELD BY LAWYERS ALERT ON THE 17TH MAY 2019
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) was formally launched on September 20, 2011 on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly meeting during which Heads of State from 8 founding governments (Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the United States) endorsed the Open Government Declaration and announced their country action plans along with an equal number of civil society leaders. The eight founding members also welcomed the commitment of 38 governments to join OGP. Since its creation, OGP has resulted in over 2,500 commitments made by 75 participating countries, covering a third of the world’s population. Nigeria joined the OGP as the 70th member in 2016, the OGP mechanism has been adopted by some states in Nigeria and it is working efficiently in those states. It is yet to be adopted and implemented in Benue state. Lawyers Alert alongside other CSOs and the Media, have come together in a bid to form a coalition to advocate for the introduction of the OGP and actions towards encouraging the state government adopting the OGP and developing a sub-national Action plan mechanism for Benue state.
Open Government Partnership is an international multi-stakeholder global coalition of reformers from government and civil society, working to make government transparent, participatory and accountable, to truly serve and empower citizens. The fundamental principles of OGP include:
Transparency: Information on government activities and decisions is open, comprehensive, timely and freely available to the public, and meets basic open standards.
Accountability: Rules, regulations and mechanisms are in place that calls upon government actors to justify their actions, act upon criticisms or requirements made of them and accept responsibility for failure to perform.
Citizenship Participation: Governments seek to mobilize citizens to engage in public debate, provide input and make contributions that lead to more responsive and effective governance.
Technology and Innovation: Governments embrace the importance of new technologies in driving innovation, providing citizens with open access to technology, and increasing their capacity to use technology.
At the end of this meeting, we are expected to achieve the following:
- A clear cut understanding of what the OGP is and how it works
- A Civil Society led movement towards having the Benue State Government sign up to the partnership
- A road map towards successfully having the Benue State Government sign up to the OGP.
The meeting which held on 17th May, 2019 at the Lawyers Alert head office Makurdi brought together members of the media and various civil society organizations in Makurdi. Among the participants were representatives from the Sun newspaper, Daily Trust newspaper, Elohim foundation and Angel Support foundation.The President of Lawyers Alert Mr. Rommy Mom defined Open Government Partnership as the government and civil society coming together to run governance as equal partners in an open and transparent way. He also spoke on the roles of the civil society organizations and the government in OGP, using the OGP at the national level as an example; stating that both the government and the civil society have equal co-chairs on the OGP committee. He also spoke about the numerous advantages, which the implementation of OGP in Benue state would bring to the citizenry and the government. The Programs Director, Mr Lazarus Ahangba spoke onengaging the Benue state government on the OGP and led a very interactive session where an action plan was developed by the participants in ensuring government buy in and eventual signing up. Agreements were reached, meetings and deadlines set and persons responsible appointed. This meeting was essentially a startup meeting and with a larger strategic meeting to hold soon including capacity building sessions on understanding the OGP. Thereafter advocacy will commence on state actors and government.
- Identify and meet some members of the transition committee to pitch the OGP to them as a proposal for the incoming government in June 2019.
- Capacity building for CSO’s on OGP to equip them for advocacy on OGP.
- Advocacy visits to state actors and non-state actors to urge to enhance the implementation of the OGP.
The OGP movement start up meeting was a huge success because, participants ensured that the entire session was lively through their robust contributions and in put. We believe that Benue state is on the right path with regards to good governance and that the OGP movement will give more room for innovation, progress and the development of Benue state.