The American government has ended a five-year project to reform governance in Nigeria, paving the way for the “Journey to Self Reliance”, a new global development agenda it is rolling out across the globe.
The Strengthening Advocacy and Civic Engagement (SACE), funded by the US Agency for International Development, since 2014 has been shoring up the capacity of civil society organizers, policymakers, donors and private sector to improve transparency, accountability and good governance across sectors.
The new agenda has collected data using third-party indices to predict a “roadmap” Nigeria is stronger on “commitment” than “capacity”, according to Erin Holleran, USAID deputy mission director.
“It means that on Nigeria’s Journey to Self-Reliance, its many stakeholders (government, private sector, civil society and citizens) are committed to a vision of a better future,” said Holleran at the closeout of SACE on Thursday in Abuja.
“In addition, these data show that Nigeria requires assistance with improving its capacity – particularly Government, Citizen, and Economic Capacity.”
The roadmap also indicates a high score for civil society and media effectiveness.
“However, to be able to play this constructive role in development effectiveness and to galvanize active citizenship, CSOs require financial, managerial, technical and advocacy capacity,” said Holleran.
“Only then can CSOs successfully represent citizen demands for transparency, accountability and good governance.”
At least 18 local civil society organizations got SACE grants to fund advocacy and engagement projects across eight sectors.
In the last four years, the projects have been linked to the push for inclusive education in the Federal Capital Territory, the success of the National Health Act, adoption of open governance to get Akwa Ibom and Delta publish their annual budgets, and the increase in agriculture budget to aid fish farmers in Delta.
“The real story is the way in which CSOs work with government to change policies,” said Charles Abani, SACE chief of party.
Along with the Partnership Initiative in the Niger Delta, SACE-funded civil society groups worked across a total 87 policy areas and expected 60 policy outcomes.
“We are confident the departments we supported will contribute significantly as Nigeria journeys toward good governance,” said Abani.
“We have had amazing policy outcomes. The future is what matters. It is really what civil society does from here on. It is important we create an environment where citizens can work in interesting ways with the government.”
Executive director of the Foundation for Partnership in the Niger Delta, Dara Akala, said some of the reforms started by civil society working with SACE were yet to be concluded
“We must continue to work. Having a responsible governance that serves citizens interest is truly a journey,” said Akala.