21st October 2021
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In the light of the Charley boy bribery Scandal, many Nigerians would have given up on activists in Nigeria who claim to hold government accountable but go behind closed doors to collect kickbacks. This article is to remind us that there are fantastic and inspiring initiatives still holding government accountable. These are voices of ordinary citizens not seeking validation from government but ensure that policy makers are accountable; that public funds are well spent; that citizens’ voices are heard. Let the following initiatives inspire you:

Tracka: Tracka is a community of active citizens tracking the implementation of government projects in their communities to ensure service delivery. The initiative reports projects, follows & tracks projects, and engages with citizens through offline and online channels. It encourages citizens to report abandoned projects and not just complain. This is done through technology such as their websites, SMS on mobile phones. During their physical meeting channels, they discuss issues with citizens, share information and also receive feedback. Learn more about them.  

BudgiT: BudgiT is a civil organisation that aims is to simplify the Nigerian budget and public data by making it accessible to the general public in order to aid participatory governance. BudgiT uses technology to make information available to citizens for them to make fully informed decisions. They aim to use budget transparency to improve accountability in government. BudgiT partners with civil society organisations, public institutions and the media to ensure full public dissemination of budget data and information. See samples of their infographics here

Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC): CISLAC is a non-governmental, non-profit, advocacy, information sharing, research, and capacity building organisation. Its purpose is to strengthen the link between civil society and the legislature through advocacy and capacity building for civil society groups and policy makers on legislative processes and governance issues. They are involved in various sectors such as: anti-corruption, democratic governance, health, environment and conservation, and peace, security and IDPs. They have developed projects such as TRAC Nigeria and Procurement monitoring tracker.

Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC): PLAC is a non-profit capacity building organisation that works to strengthen democratic governance and citizens’ participation in Nigeria. PLAC works to promote citizens’ engagement with government institutions and to advocate for legal and policy reforms and promote transparency and accountability in policy and decision-making processes. It aims to increase legislative advocacy, promote transparency and good governance, support and promote electoral reforms, enhance citizen’s access to public policies and advance anti-corruption campaigns. As an organisation, they were heavily involved in monitoring the just concluded 2019 elections and regularly gave situation reports.

Transparency Information Technology Initiative (TransparencIT): TransparencIT is a civic technology organisation working to control corruption and accelerate justice and service delivery by enhancing transparency and active citizenship in Nigeria. The organisation make use of open data sets and technology tools to monitor justice space and empower citizens with information on public services so as to promote social accountability, adherence to rule of law and institutional reforms. On their website they have an ongoing list of corruption cases of government officials where you could track them and know the status.

From profiling these initiatives and organisations, it is obvious that they make use of information and transparency as tools to hold government accountable. However, it has been established that information alone is not sufficient to bring public officials to justice or monitor their actions. Especially when the government is not responsive and when people are not empowered or have agency to take actions. The next step for organisations such as these, is to develop ways for ordinary citizens to not only speak out but actually force the “hands” of government to be responsive. It would be interesting to find out if they are doing that and how.

The second observation is that they work hand in hand with government. It will be particularly worthy of interest to know how they maintain their independence and their “voice” in the face of such collaboration. This is because it is difficult to challenge or go against a body that cooperates with you. In the nearest future, I hope to raise these questions with them.

Ides Ofune

Ides Ofune is currently a PhD Student at the University of Leeds. Her research focuses on civil society and accountability in improving the quality of education. She is the founder of Desert Bloom Initiative and editor of Desert Bloom Advisory. Ides is very passionate about education and creating an inclusive society. She speaks French and English fluently. She can be reached at info@desertbloomadvisory.com