(Being a remark presented at the “a day capacity building workshop for civil society organizations and media executives” organized by the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) on Tuesday 30 August 2022 at Rights House, 43, Adeniyi Jones Avenue, Off Oba Akran, Ikeja, Lagos State)
I am delighted to be here, representing my Principal, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, the Executive Director of the Corporate Accountability and Public participation Africa (CAPPA)at this occasion organized by the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) to build the capacity of civil society and the media in Lagos State towards achieving the goal of bolstering support for anti-corruption and social inclusion among critical groups and strengthening policies and programs for anti-corruption at the state level as the country prepares for elections in 2023.
No doubt, the 2023 general elections will be a defining moment for Nigeria. If done right, the elections can help consolidate Nigeria’s democracy and serve as a shiny example for the West African sub-region which faces the grim reality of a recrudescence of usurpation of power by the military and other anti-democratic forces ’,.
Hence, this kind of initiative undertaken by CACOL is essential to help build citizens’ civic awareness of their civic obligations and capacity to engage critical stakeholders to ensure not only the integrity of the elections but also to guarantee that the government that emerges from this exercise work for the public good.Right from its birthplace in Ancient Athens, democracy has always been underpinned and undergirded by citizens’ participation. Therefore, the health of every democracy is directly proportional to the quality of citizens’ participation and awareness. This is why I am particularly elated by the topic of my presentation which talks about “asking the right questions” and “demanding SMART deliverables”.
Nigeria’s democracy is marked by a gross deficit of governance, Over the years, the performance of elected public officials has been seen to be below not citizens’ expectations. Also, campaign promises are rarely fulfilled once politicians are in power. This situation has led to widespread dissatisfaction and distrust in the political system. A study undertaken by the Pew Research Centre in 2019 found that “Only 39% of Nigerians are satisfied with the way democracy is working in their country, while 60% say they are not satisfied. Almost six-in-ten (59%) say the statement “elected officials care what ordinary people think” does not describe their country well. In addition, a 57% majority believes that no matter who wins an election, things do not change very much for people in Nigeria”
Asking the right questions
A major factor responsible for unsatisfactory governance outcomes is the lack of productive engagement between the electorate and the political parties and their candidates. Instead of asking the right questions, many voters prefer to settle for inducement and other largesse politicians provide during campaigns. PVCs have now turned into means of earning free money during elections instead of a powerful tool for making transformative changes. Hence, voter inducement was widespread during the recent off-cycle gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun states,. For the poorest of the poor in Nigeria, election day is an opportunity to earn enough to cook a pot of soup rather than a day to define the destiny of the nation. No doubt, this is a sad commentary on the state of democracy in Nigeria.
However, while poverty may explain electorates’ predisposition to inducement, several studies show that many citizens also lack the requisite knowledge to engage political actors. For citizens to ask the right questions, they need to be informed, organized, and active. They also must be equipped with the requisite knowledge “to make decisions about policy choices and the proper use of authority, along with skills to voice their concerns, act collectively and hold public officials accountable”.
For the purpose of this engagement, I have identified six (6) broad categories of questions citizens must always ask candidates and elected public officials. These are:
(1)What is to be done? What are the issues?
(2)How will it be done? i.e., budgeting process, mode of implementation (Public, privatization, or PPP), contract system, or public works? (Lekki Epe Tollgate)
(3)Who will pay for it? i.e., will it lead to increased taxation? (E.g. Tollgates for New Roads)
(4)Who will it serve or benefit? i.e., the rich, the poor, etc. (for instance, ultra-modern markets and housing estates which are often built at the expense of the poor and to which they have no access)
(5)How will it extend to the next generation i.e., sustainability, does it come with usurious debt that will affect the next generation? Is it environmental-friendly?
(6)How will women, youth, and other vulnerable segments of society be affected?
Obviously, the above six (6) categories do not exhaust the subject, nevertheless, they can provide an important framework for citizens to engage candidates and elected officials in order to make informed electoral choices.
The acronym “SMART” stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. It refers to specific criteria to guide in the setting of goals and objectives for better results. The term “SMART” was first proposed by George T. Doran in the November 1981 issue of Management Review. Particularly in the field of project management, the idea is that every project goal must adhere to the SMART criteria to be effective. Therefore, when planning a project’s objectives, each one should be:
(1)Specific: The goal should target a specific area of improvement or answer a specific need
(2)Measurable: The goal must be quantifiable, or at least allow for measurable progress
(3)Attainable: The goal should be realistic, based on available resources and existing constraints
(4)Relevant: The goal should align with other business objectives to be considered worthwhile
(5)Time-bound: The goal must have a deadline or defined end
What are SMART goals?
The goal should target a specific area of improvement or answer a specific need. Because it is the first step in the SMART goal process, it is important to be as clear as possible. For example, note the difference between “I will make lunch” and “I will use wheat toast, peanut butter, and strawberry jam to create a tasty sandwich for myself to eat”. See how specific it is? This example also illustrates the importance of word choice. Not only are you noting which ingredients or tools will be used to achieve the final goal, but you are also articulating who benefits. Details like these color your goal description, making it easier for collaborators to visualize and align intentions with your project.
The goal must be quantifiable, or at least allow for measurable progress. In this step, you’ll choose what your progress markers or project KPIs are and how you’ll measure them. This might mean adopting the right tools or restructuring your KPI’s to something that you can easily monitor. You’ll also need to define who is in charge of measuring your progress, when these measurements will take place, and where the information will be shared.
The goal should be realistic and based on available resources and existing constraints. Typical project constraints include team bandwidth, budgets, and timelines. Project managers should look to data from similar past projects for insight into what’s achievable this time around.
The goal should align with other business objectives to be considered worthwhile. You can also break your project goal down into smaller, equally relevant goals that will keep the whole team focused. Be diligent about eliminating irrelevant goals and subgoals to save significant time.
The goal must have a deadline or a defined end. This can be measured in hours and minutes, business days, or years depending on the project scope. To set your project timelines, get feedback from major stakeholders about their deadline expectations, and compare it to team members’ inputs.
How does it relate to citizen engagement of political actors?
The SMART criteria provide a framework for engaging political actors whether they are candidates or elected public officials. Oftentimes, politicians make outlandish pronouncements and promise that they do not intend to implement. Sometimes, a newly elected public official announces they are unable to fulfill campaign promises because of the state of finance of the government they have just been elected to lead. By using the SMART criteria, citizens and electorates can be armed with a tool for productive engagement and for making informed political choices, and demanding accountability.
Therefore, SMART deliverables can be defined as a set of government priorities and projects that meets the criteria of specificity, measurability, and attainability and that are relevant and time bound. For example, in the area of public education, citizens must demand government projects or programmes that are:
(1)Specific: How many school buildings will be renovated or built anew and how many students are targeted to be enrolled? How many new teachers need to be recruited?
(2)Measurable: How will the project be implemented, how much will it cost and what are the Key Performance Indicators?
(3)Attainability: What is the status of the resources of the state? How will the project be funded?
(4)Relevance: What are the present level of school enrollment and the condition of school infrastructures and how does this project align with the overall objective of the state.
(5)Time-Bound: How long will this project last? Is it within the financial year or within the four-year tenure?
I do hope that I have within the limited time available been able to increase our awareness and knowledge of the tool and skills to engage and promote active citizen participation in the political process. Obviously, these discussions and engagements are so crucial and therefore ought to continue beyond the 2023 general elections. Once again, I thank CACOL for inviting me and hope for greater collaboration between CAPPA and CACOL in the effort to promote anti-corruption, social inclusion, and accountability in governance and political processes.
Policy and Research Lead
Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has commended the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu for extending a hand of support for two out-of-school girls in the state. The organization however implore him to put all machinery in motion to give effect to the Child Right Act that the state has domesticated more than a decade ago, noting that if it had been earlier implemented there wouldn’t be any need for him to stop his convoy to appraise out-of-school children that he found by the road side.
In a release issued by CACOL’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo, on behalf of the Chairman of the Centre, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he noted, “We observed the interest shown by the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu in the plight of two out-of-school girls in the state”
“It would be recalled that the media reported that on his way to an official function recently, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu momentarily halted his convoy to attend to a disturbing situation. It was a sight of two underage girls on an errand for a bean cake vendor during school hours. The girls were expected to be in school. But, both Amarachi Chinedu, 9, and Suwebat Husseini, 12, were forced to skip school by their parents in order to serve some domestic assistance”.
The girls were going to deliver buckets of peeled beans and pepper to a grinder when the Governor sighted them at Anthony Village area. It was a glance that presented a discomforting image for Sanwo-Olu, who revved his convoy to a stop to find out the reason the girls were not in school.
Amarachi’s story left the Governor to shudder throughout the encounter. Her mother is a teacher, but the nine-year-old was not allowed to go to school because her parents could not afford the current session’s tuition fees. Amarachi would have to miss a school year because of this reason.
Suwebat’s mother is the bean cake seller for whom the girls were running an errand. Her parents, who are Jigawa State indigenes, relocated to Lagos months back. Suwebat’s four male siblings were all in school at the time she was stopped on the road by the Governor. But her parents preferred she stayed back home to help with some domestic chores.
The decisions taken by these girls’ parents, Sanwo-Olu said, “could rob the little ones of their innocence, their future and put them at a disadvantage among their peers”. The Governor stressed that his encounter with the girls left his heart bleeding.
Salvaging the situation, Sanwo-Olu, at the scene, told the girls he would personally take up the responsibility for their education and upbringing, promising to enrol them in school to continue with their education.
The anti-corruption Czar said “We will like to commend Governor Sanwo-Olu for taking this bold step aimed at returning these out-of-school girls to school. We believe there are many Amarachis and Suwebats out there who are not that lucky to encounter the Governor. To this set of children something drastic ought to be done to save them from the scourge of illiteracy.”
We also believe that if the Child Rights Acts which Lagos state has domesticated since more than a decade ago is fully implemented there wouldn’t have been any out-of-school child in the state because it would have been an offence for parents to engage their children in economic activities or for any child to roam the streets during school hours.
The CACOL Boss added, “.Section 15 sub section 1 of the Act stated that Every child has the right to free, compulsory and universal basic education and it shall be the duty of the Government in Nigeria to provide such education. Subsection (2) stated that every parent or guardian shall ensure that his child or ward attends and completes his primary and junior secondary education. Subsection (6) of the Act stipulated appropriate punishments for a parent, guardian or person who has care and custody of a child and fails in the duty imposed on him under subsection (2) of this section.
“We hope the state government would look into the implementation of this Act and all the needed financial, human and material resources would be put in place in order for the dictates of the Act to be fully implemented and thereby sow a good seed in the educational sector of the state by reducing the population of out-of-school children to the barest minimum”.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has hailed the repatriation of £4.2 million loot recovered from friends, associates and family members of former Delta State Governor, James Onanefe Ibori from United Kingdom and enjoined the Federal Government of Nigeria, under President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure judicious use of the funds in areas that could revive the near comatose economy of the country.
In a release issued by the Centre on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran and signed by CACOL’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo, he stated, “We received the news that the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ms. Catriona Laing, said the money would be returned to Nigeria in batches. She said £4.2 million would be returned to Nigeria in the first batch. Laing spoke at a ceremony for the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between both countries in Abuja. She disclosed that the £4.2 million was recovered from Ibori’s friends, associates and family members. According to her the case of Ibori was complicated, saying that the UK government was still working on it to ascertain how much was really involved. She said with time, more funds stolen by Ibori would be repatriated to Nigeria”.
“It is noteworthy that James Ibori was convicted in the UK for money laundering and jailed. On 27 February 2012, he was charged with stealing US$250 million from the Delta state treasury. The former governor pleaded guilty to ten counts of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud at Southwark Crown Court, London. Incidentally, nothing tangible could be said to have happened to the people of this country even with all the looted funds being recovered or repatriated from both within and outside the country since the advent of the civil rule and even under the current dispensation as the country continues to run a mono-cultural economy with the prices of foodstuff and other basic needs skyrocketing and gradually rising beyond the reach of an average citizen”.
“Although, Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who signed for the country, said President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that the returned loot be deployed to completion of the second Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan and the Abuja to Kano expressway projects. The level of retooling of such repatriated funds became so worrisome and a cause for regrets that THE US government was reported to have insisted that Nigeria should be ready to ‘replace’ the over USD300m it returned if the fund was misused. This is so as previously repatriated funds continue to develop wings and find their ways into private pockets while the country laments its collective woes”.
“We therefore, lend our voice in requesting for the judicious use of this huge capital, both on social provisions of amenities that could ameliorate the unsuitable conditions of majority of Nigerians that have been so far, worsened by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, and in enhancing certain capital projects that should have a positive roll-over on the national economy and infrastructure on the long run. We also pledge our commitment and readiness in providing monitoring and oversight roles towards assisting government in achieving openness and accountability at the end of utilization of the latest repatriated funds.”
The CACOL Boss added, “In as much as we welcome the repatriation of this loot, we want to call on the government to device means whereby stealing of public funds will be more difficult and very easy to expose. The fight against corruption should be intensified and those that have been found culpable should be prosecuted and be made to face the full wrath of the law so as to serve as deterrent to others. The whistle blowing policy should be reinvigorated. There should be more synergy with foreign financial institutions and investigators so that if any money is looted from the home front, it will not take eternity before the evil act is exposed”.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has commended the Federal Government on the successful recovery and safe-keeping of the $322 million being part of the oil reserve confirmed to have been looted by the late military head-of-state General Sani Abacha which was strategically recouped from the Swiss Government. The Centre, further expressed its delight on the plans of the Government in funding some National social safety nets, which include the areas of education, health, especially; immunization and maternal mortality, and other social infrastructure. These social infrastructures are to be furnished by the purposeful disposition of the Late Abacha’s loot currently being warehoused.
The Centre expressed these views through its Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, that the Abacha loot is an unprecedented historic one given the enormity of its figure, recording that while previous Administration were making very little or no progress in its effort at ensuring the retrieval of the fabled looted Abacha sum, the Buhari-led Government has successfully recovered the siphoned funds and diligently apportioned the money in resolving major social declines that has perpetually arrested the development of the Country and her people. He also expressed the group’s concern that after Abacha’s death in 1998, the missing money became the subject of an international lawsuit involving the government of Switzerland where the bulk of the money was discovered indicating that the late former Military maximum ruler single-handedly embezzled the bulk of the Nation’s oil reserves, and in turn threw dust in the eyes of Nigerians.
The Executive Chairman of CACOL, while recalling the issues that arose during the visit of American business magnate, Bill Gates, where Gates gave lots of meaningful insights to the developmental challenges of Nigeria in his speech wherein he suggested that investing in health, education, and welfare opportunities of every Nigerian is the foundation for sustained prosperity in the country. He related the suggestions made by Gates to the planned social development programmes by Federal Government saying, “it is right to say that the Administration is pro-active in resolving the pending issues that has over-time, stunted the growth of the Nation and its people, pauperizing the social attributes of people in the country thus handicapping the development that would have attained in saner climes”. The CACOL Chairman also expressed delight that the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is one to be emulated as it does not only proffer solutions to problems that has been lingering in the country, but also has listening ears to suggestions on how best to make the country’s socio-economic condition thrive better. These traits are not to be discarded nor forgotten on time but to be perpetually treasured and utilized.
Concluding, Mr. Adeniran suggested that, while the Abacha’s loots are being retrieved, it is imperative that a transparent and secure framework be instituted to monitor and regulate the equitable disbursement of the funds to avoid it being re-looted by those overseeing the projects it is appropriated for. Mr. Adeniran further discerned that it would be on history as a fatal Administrative catastrophe if the Abacha’s loot recovered by the Government is re-looted. He also suggested that a deterren sanction be instituted to put officials and organizations that would have access to the appropriated funds in check as this will in-turn, prevent the re-looting of the money.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, sadly announces the passing away of its Director of Research, Programmes and Documentation, Mr. Olawale Salami (aka, DON), who passed away at the Summit Hospital, Shasha, Lagos after a brief illness. Mr. Salami took ill while preparing for work by morning died about 5.30pm on Monday 9th April, 2018 after efforts to resuscitate him by the medical team was unsuccessful.
DON, who just celebrated his 50th birthday less than two weeks earlier, was one of the first to believe that the establishment of CACOL will thrive despite the fact that other comrades expressed their fears and disbelief in the struggle. He was a cerebral activist, a straight-forward team player and diligent worker with passion for the betterment of his society and humanity at large.
As we mourn the death of his contribution to contemporary Revolutionary Struggles, The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, Executive Chairman, Staff, Friends and well-wishers join the family in mourning the departed icon in the Anti-Corruption Struggle. His contributions to the advancement of the efforts to birth a new Nigeria society will be sorely missed.
May his memories continue to be a source of inspiration to those left behind and courage not to relent in the struggle till the desired victory is taken beyond illusion but attained for the benefit of all.
Mr. Debo Adeniran, the Executive Chairman of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL has commended the order given by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen for the establishment of special courts for corruption cases in the country.
“The country really needs special anti-corruption courts to the speed-up judicial processes in corruption cases and other related offences. We have consistently advocated for reforms in the judicial system including the creation of Special courts for corruption cases to facilitate the enabling environment for the successful prosecution of the anti-corruption war. Several cogent reasons abound for the inevitable need for Special courts for corruption cases and some reforms in our laws.” He said
The anti-corruption crusader was reacting to the CJN’s directive on Monday to heads of courts in the country to create special courts for corruption cases at the special court session held at the Supreme Court in Abuja to mark the commencement of the new 2017/2018 legal year. Onnoghen averred that the creation of special court would speed up determination of cases.
“As a matter of fact, since the kitchen became hotter for corruption criminals based on the ongoing war against corruption, corrupt elements are fighting back using every means available including lapses in our laws to evade justice. The plethora of corruption cases that the ongoing anti-corruption drive has thrown up calls for reforms in the existing judicial system to ensure that the efforts to rid Nigeria of sharp practices bears fruits.” Mr. Adeniran said as he welcomed the order for the creation of special courts.
“As corruption fights backs viciously, the logical response is to; lawfully remove all the encumbrances on the path of the anti-corruption drive which corruption criminals cleverly use to wriggle through the labyrinths of the existing judicial system to escape justice.”
“We therefore welcome and commend the CJN and the judiciary for this bold initiative and the proactive steps being taken to achieve the establishment of Special Courts, just as we call on all the Arms of the Federal Government to work in unison to fight corruption, a scourge that have encroached our country for too long and threatening to obliterate it. The decision is akin to taking one step ahead of criminals who had always deployed different tactics to evade justice should it come to fruition.”
Media Coordinator, CACOL
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