Nkem Ilo, CEO of Public Private Development Center (PPDC), has said the organisation would support more subnational governments to build their contract disclosure framework in a way that enables greater citizen participation.
She said this in an interview with Wendy Trott as she spoke on how Nigeria is using open contracting to fight corruption and mismanagement, and the future of PPDC’s work.
Luminate is proud to announce a new three-year grant of $900,000 to PPDC that will support their continued work on open contracting and in enabling citizen engagement in public financial management.
Ilo said PPDC has worked consciously and continuously to achieve the informed civic participation that is necessary to hold government accountable and to promote better service delivery.
She said, “Over many years we have developed particular expertise in the areas of public procurement reform, public procurement and contract implementation monitoring, and improving citizens’ access to publicly held information under the Freedom of Information Act.
“PPDC has been at the forefront of advocating for the use of the Open Contracting Data Standards in Nigeria’s public procurement, to ensure that information about contracts the state makes with third-party companies can be easily accessed and tracked by anyone. This was successfully achieved with the launch of the ground-breaking platform, Budeshi.”
When asked what she plan to achieve over the next three year period of this grant, Ilo stated that PPDC would be leveraging Luminate’s support to work collaboratively with a broad range of stakeholders to contribute to strengthening public contracting at target subnational governments.
“Subnational governments are closer to the citizens and are delegated to spend significant public resources in providing public services, however fiscal transparency laws at this level of government are inconsistent and incomplete,” Ilo said.
She noted that “now is an opportune moment to engage these governments because of a recent ruling by the Court of Appeal that the FOI Act applies universally to all public agencies, including those at a sub-national level.”
Speaking on the challenges she envisaged in her work, she highlighted absence of legal and institutional frameworks on Access to Information across several subnational governments as one of the challenges.
She stressed that this would pose a challenge in the support for more subnational governments to build their contract disclosure framework as most of the states in Nigeria do not have ATI laws.
“A second possible challenge is the sustainability of the reform initiatives being introduced. The goal of improving public access to information and active citizen involvement is largely dependent on state governments’ ability to maintain and constantly upload current contractual data on the portals.
“Finally, there is also the challenge of a change in government bringing about a change in the current policy focus on open contracting disclosure frameworks.”
Ilo, speaking more on the PPDC’s partnerships and how she will collaborations with various stakeholders, she said: “PPDC has robust partnerships with various civil society organizations at the federal and state levels who also work in the transparency and accountability space.
“In partnership with CSOs such as Basic Rights Watch, BudgIT, Connected Development (CODE), Media Rights Agenda (MRA), and Right to Know Nigeria (R2K), we are currently running a national FOI ranking to measure compliance of MDAs to the FOIA 2011.
“At the state level, we also carry out joint contract monitoring of projects to ensure proper contract implementation.
“We also have partnerships with several media outfits, one of which is the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR). Through this, PPDC has trained several journalists on the use of data to carry out monitoring and write data driven stories from their investigations.
“Additionally, PPDC is currently a member of the Constituency Project Tracking Group (CPTG) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), where we are jointly carrying out project monitoring of constituency projects from 2015 to date to ensure proper project implementation. At the moment we have selected five projects in 12 states across the six geopolitical zones for the first batch of the monitoring exercise.”