By Victoria Effiong
In a bid to promote open governance practices and accountability in extractive industries, civic space actors gathered for a capacity building on public engagement and participatory governance last weekend in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
This was part of the Power for Voices Partnership (PVP) Fair For All Project which covers 5 states across the South – South, South – East regions of Nigeria and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory and is implemented by Oxfam international in partnership with Connected Development (CODE).
Asides public engagement, the training also focused on advocacy and policy influencing, participatory budget and budget monitoring, the Nigerian extractive industry, gender inclusion in governance system as well as the collation of inputs for a draft manual for school integrity clubs – a club with the objective of instilling in young minds, the spirit of accountability and transparency to ensure they are corrupt free and able to take up leadership in future in a manner that they are not identified as corrupt leaders.
And, the Lead, Oxfam ‘Even it up Nigeria’ project, Henry Ushie said the PVP project is aimed at, “promoting accountability and transparency across value chains in Nigeria particularly the extractive industry with emphasis on the oil and gas sector to ensure that resources and revenue that comes from that sector actually serves the needs of the most vulnerable in the society by ensuring community people are carried along at all levels in the governance of natural resources in their space.”
But, Ushie lamented that promoting accountability was challenged by the shrinking civic space. According to him, “the civic space is a critical enabler for people to hold government and the private sector to account to overcome poverty and injustice.”
“The civic space is the oxygen for citizen’s voices, the condition that allows people to speak out, organize and act. He defined the civic space as a set of universally accepted rules, which allows people to organize, participate and communicate with each other freely and without hindrance, and in doing so, influence the political and social structure around them.”
He cited examples of attacks on the civic space to include the non governmental organizations (NGOs) regulatory bill, amendment of the Nigeria Press Council Act, the ban on Twitter and growing restrictions on free speech, rights to assembly and movement which is often seen in the unlawful interference with peaceful protests, rallies and demonstrations.
For Dr. Onyedikachi Onuoha, program and research associate at CODE, “the PVP project will run in Nigeria and 13 other countries with the objectives of ensuring fair and inclusive trade and fiscal systems with proper taxation of extractive industries and investments of revenues through pro-poor spending on basic resources, to monitor state budgets and build strong alliances towards a well regulated extractive sector ensuring better management of natural resources and more transparent public-private deals and also to mobilize citizens and strengthen capacities of local organizations to increase the level of accountability of public actors and promote fairness and equity in income distribution which will result in inequality and poverty reduction in Nigeria.”
He averred that it was a deliberate decision to train civil society organizations, NGOs and journalists in order to empower them not to only hold government accountable but to provide supportive mechanism that ensures the private sector, government and other people who are implementing projects are accountable to the people upholding accountability and transparency at all times.
Below are photographs from the training…
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