Two non-governmental organisations working for transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region have called on the state governments and people in
the area to stand up against corruption in order to usher in the much needed economic prosperity and better living condition for the people.
The Nigerian economy is largely funded by crude oil sourced from the Niger Delta, and yet the people in the area have continued to live in poverty and polluted environment for several decades.
Broken down schools and poor healthcare facilities are some of the common features in the region ravaged also by militancy.
Trillions of dollars accruing to the states in the region from the nation’s Federation Account are, in most cases, mismanaged and stolen by corrupt public officials.
“Corruption has turned the Niger Delta into a basket case, a development paradox,” the organisations, Policy Alert and We The People, said in a joint statement issued on Sunday, in Uyo.
The statement, signed by Tijah Bolton-Akpan and Ken Henshaw on behalf of Policy Alert and We The People respectively, was released to mark the 2018 International Anti-corruption Day.
The Niger Delta region has remained steeped in under-development, with decaying infrastructure, despite its wealth, the statement said.
“The region’s resources are plundered mindlessly while the environment is continuously poisoned because responsible people and institutions are selfishly looking the other way.
“It is worrisome that across several development indicators, including life expectancy, health, education and employment, the region’s performance remains below the national average,” the statement said.
The way forward, the groups said, is for the governments in the region to sign on to the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and “commit to open government reforms that will ensure greater citizens participation, transparency, accountability and deployment of technology and innovation in governance processes”.
The groups said, “The OGP is a platform that brings together government reformers and civil society leaders to create and implement specific commitments that make governments more inclusive, responsive and accountable.
“Nigeria joined the partnership in 2016 and has made substantial progress in implementing its National Action Plan (NAP).
“States are being encouraged to join so that the reforms to empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance could be cascaded to the subnational level.
According to the statement, Edo and Abia are the only two, out of the nine states in the Niger Delta, that have signed on to the OGP so far.
“The slow uptake of the OGP in this region belies the huge governance challenges – including corruption and budget inefficiencies – that the region is surmounting.
“On this 2018 International Anti-Corruption Day, we call on the governments of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Imo, Ondo and Rivers states to sign on to the
OGP without further delay,” the groups said, while also calling on the people to make open government an agenda in the 2019 election campaign.