Be change agents in anti-corruption campaigns – ANEEJ tasks CSOs
By: Femi Mustapha
Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, (ANEEJ) has urged Civil Society Organizations to participate actively in bringing about change and be a responsible change agent in the anti-corruption crusade in Nigeria.
The Executive Director of ANEEJ, Rev. David Ugolor, disclosed this during the Anti-corruption and Social Inclusive Reform Initiatives in Nigeria project mid-term review meeting held in Abuja on 13th February, 2023.
Rev. Ugolor, who explained that the Enhancing Anti-corruption and Social Inclusive Reform Initiatives in Nigeria project is being implemented by ANEEJ and eight partners as part of the Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement, (SCALE) project, said it is designed to enhanced local civil society’s organizations’ ability to be positive and responsible change agents in the country.
The ED further added that SCALE is a 5-year project implemented by Palladium and its resource partners with funds from USAID, saying it is designed following the anchor cluster model adopted by Palladium to promote and engage in anti-corruption policy reforms.
According to him, ANEEJ received grants as one of the anchors for the SCALE project working with eight cluster member organizations spread across six states and the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT).
He listed the states to include: Abia, Edo, Delta, Imo, Ondo, Rivers and the FCT, Abuja, adding that the Network is working with the cluster members located in these states including the FCT to implement and deliver the project.
“The cluster organisations are: 21st Century Community Empowerment for Youth and Women Initiative, Abuja; Community Empowerment and Development Initiative (CEDI), Warri, Delta State; Community Heritage Watch for Development Initiative, (KAI) Akure, Ondo State.
“Christian Fellowship and Care Foundation, (CFCF), Owerri, Imo State; Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy and Development, (FENRAD), Aba, Abia State; Gender and Development Action (GADA) Port-Harcourt, Rivers State; Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, (JONAPWD), Edo State Chapter; and the New Apostolic Centre for Development (NCD), Benin City, Edo State.”
Rev. Ugolor stressed that, the project has implemented several activities which include baseline research, capacity-building workshops for CSOs, media, private sector, PwDs and host community groups on several issues.
Others activities are; development of advocacy plans to support the passage of pending anti-corruption bills and engagement with the Federal Ministry of Justice, National Assembly, sub-national governments, oil and gas commissions, among others.
“We are happy to inform you that the project has achieved some level of results, as some of the anti-corruption bills the project worked on have been passed and signed into law by the President.
“The proceeds of crime (Recovery and Management) Act 2022, and the Money Laundering Prevention and Prohibition Act 2022 are key legislations to support anti-corruption in Nigeria.
“We are also happy with the extension of the implementation of the National Anti-corruption Strategy. Our cluster member, the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, Edo State chapter led advocacy to get Edo State government to pass the state version of the Disability Act, which has now been signed into law by the Edo State governor.
“The project has equally done a comprehensive assessment of how Nigeria has implemented the commitments made during the global forum on asset recovery and the London anti-corruption summit, this is a useful resource material for both state and non-state actors, and even the International Community.”
The ED further said that the project is also mainstreaming anti-corruption into the upcoming 2023 general elections and, the cluster is leading an online campaign against vote buying.
“A town hall meeting with political parties and candidates was also held in December 2022 to charge them to tell Nigerians their plans to fight corruption if elected to office and to mainstream anti-corruption issues into their manifesto as they campaign across the country.”
He said despite the achievement there are other anti-corruption bills that are yet to be passed, noting that those already passed needed to be implemented.
“Our engagement with the oil commissions in the Niger Delta has not yielded the desired result, the 2023 general elections will hold in February and March 2023.
“These and many other areas will form part of the issues the project will be working on in the second year. We want you to work closely with us to collectively deliver on these issues as no single organization can do it alone.
“We are encouraged by the level of cooperation and partnership we have received from the government, especially the Federal Ministry of Justice, anti-corruption agencies and others, we value such relationship,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the cluster members, Martha Onose of CEDI, thanked ANEEJ, Palladium and its resource partners USAID for the support given to the clusters to effectively carry out the anti-corruption in their various domains.
Onose assured that the cluster members are willing to do more to ensure the success of the project.
Similarly, Ann Ojuigo of JONAPWD, Edo State chapter, praised ANEEJ for it support and advocacy which resulted to the passage of the Disability Act in Edo State, signed into law by the Edo State governor.