Academic Associates PeaceWorks

Developing Good Governance in the Niger Delta

GTF 309: Developing Good Governance in the Niger Delta (2008-July 2013)

The five year programme, Strengthening Local Government Capacity for Effective Service Delivery was funded by DFID’s Global Transparency Fund and ran from 2008 to 2013. The aim of the programme was to encourage collaboration between government and civil society in the Niger Delta in order to improve governance and transparency in the region and by so doing, improve the delivery of basic services critical to the reduction of poverty. The programme focused on six local government authorities in the three core Niger Delta States of Bayelsa (Sagbama and Kolokuma/Opokuma), Rivers (Gokana and Abua Odua) and Delta (Isoko North and Ethiope West).

The programme was initially a collaboration between Living Earth Foundation (a British NGO) and three Nigerian NGOs with a wealth of experience of working in the Niger Delta:

  1. Living Earth Nigeria Foundation (LENF)
  2. Academic Associates PeaceWorks (AA PeaceWorks)
  3. Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (IHRHL)

Each NGO had its area of focus, with LENF concentrating on building the capacity of local government officials to improve delivery of basic services, while AA PeaceWorks worked on building the capacity of civil society, and IHRHL handled training on the Fiscal Responsibility Acts in the three states. Identification and baseline studies of the six chosen local governments were carried out by all of the NGOs in the consortium in 2008.

  • Building the Capacity of Local Government Officials for Effective Service Delivery

The following activities were carried out with appropriate elected and civil service officials in each of the six local governments:

  • Externally accredited learning programmes for LGA staff and politicians through the Open College Network in London
  • Assistance with Development Strategy formulation and implementation of action plans
  • Assistance with complication of a Directory of Service for each LGA
  • Assistance in developing a Communication Strategy for each LGA
  • Assistance in the design and content of a website for each LGA, plus provision of computer and functional ICT skills
  • Building the Capacity of Citizens to Identify and Advocate for their Development Needs

Also, the following activities were carried out in the implementation of the project:

  • Quarterly Good Governance Forums which provide a platform for dialogue between Local Government officials and their constituents, giving the officials the opportunity to inform the public about their ongoing and future programmes and to answer questions and receive comments from the citizens. The citizens appreciate the opportunity to interact with their local government officials and make their needs and priorities known.
  • Publication of Good Governance Forums key points
  • Establishment of 10-member Accountability Corps in each of the local governments, which monitor local government funded projects, as well as budget implementation
  • Training in advocacy for various civil society groups in the local government, to help them identify their development priorities and how to best achieve these.
  • A pan Niger Delta literary competition on the theme of good governance held, perform the winning play, and publish a volume of the winning entries
  • A 13-part radio drama on the topic of good governance
  • Increasing Understanding of the Fiscal Responsibility Laws of the 3 States
  • Review workshops for state, local government officials and civil society representatives on the Fiscal Responsibility Law in each state
  • Simplification and publication of the law for each state
  • Bringing Together State and Local Government Officials and Citizens

Through the “Strengthening Local Government Capacity for Effective Service Delivery” programme, AA PeaceWorks worked in the six local governments since 2008. Common themes have arisen, such as lack of capacity to design and implement development strategy, lack of capacity to communicate effectively with citizens and with the state government, lack of effective cooperation between officials at the state and local government levels, fiscal concerns. During meetings with state officials, they also expressed concern about lack of capacity at the local government level and lack of cooperation between state and local governments.

In response to these demands, AA PeaceWorks brought together key elected and civil service officials from the state and local governments, for periodic dialogues on how to build this collaboration to provide more effective service delivery. The dialogues were carried out from October 2011 in each state capital.