A coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) has harped on the need to implement merit-based criteria for appointments and promotions within governmental bodies.
According to them, this will fosters trust by ensuring qualified individuals hold positions, promoting competence in public administration.
The CSOs noted this at the just concluded Nigeria Accountability Summit 2023 which was organized by the Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative (PLSI), BudgIT Foundation, Connected Development (CODE), Dataphyte, Agora Policy, Accountability Lab Nigeria, Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC), Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Step Up Nigeria, Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), and Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation in Abuja on Thursday.
The Summit themed, “Institutionalizing Accountability for Effective Public Administration in Nigeria” focused on social, financial, political, legal, administrative, and ethical accountability systems.
The Executive Director at Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative (PLSI), Olusegun Elemo in his opening remarks, affirmed the need to also ensure public administrators are accountable in implementing their policies to advance the common good and effect positive change in the society.
Olusegun stated that “Nigerians elected the 7th consecutive civilian government in February 2023 and all national and subnational governments have begun implementing policies targeting different sectors of our national life.
According to him, some of these policies are having untold hardship for citizens with many now looking for when the benefits of these policies will start to materialize. Therefore, it is important to make sure that policy actors are held accountable to ensure objectives of their policies are achieved to improve citizens’ welfare”.
Other issues, the CSOs resolved in a communique is the need to Empower Oversight Mechanisms: Strengthen regulators and oversight bodies by providing necessary resources, authority, and autonomy for effective monitoring and enforcement. Enhance their oversight capabilities to ensure efficient functioning.
Also , the need to enhance Legal Framework: Develop action plans to improve the justice system’s capacity, including court efficiency, legal procedures, and timely dispute resolution. Strengthening the legal framework is crucial for accountability in public administration.
“Tech-Enabled Civic Engagement: Digitize government processes to enhance accessibility and transparency. Utilize technology for citizen engagement, feedback gathering, and communication, fostering responsiveness and reinforcing the governance structure.
“Citizens’ Power to Recall: Enable citizens to exercise their constitutional right to recall non-performing legislators. This mechanism ensures elected representatives remain accountable, promoting better governance and responsiveness.
“Strategic Tax Policies: Create sound policies addressing specific challenges, focusing on transparent tax classifications, and removing small, burdensome taxes. Establish a clear threshold for taxpayers to enhance fiscal transparency.
“Transparent Governance Analysis: Conduct adequate analysis of governance activities and communicate findings to citizens. Transparency in government actions strengthens accountability and builds trust with the public.
“Law Enforcement and Judicial Improvement: Improve law enforcement and the judicial system to ensure effective checks and balances in government. This step contributes to a more accountable and transparent public administration.
” Democratic Institution Reinforcement: Strengthen key institutions like the judiciary, electoral bodies, and anti-corruption agencies. These institutions are vital for upholding the rule of law, ensuring fair elections, and combating corruption.
“Media Independence and Accountability: Encourage independence within the newsroom to combat misinformation. Establish and enforce guidelines to ensure responsible reporting, contributing to an informed public and accountability”.
Other speakers at the Summit include Mr. Taiwo Oyedele, Chairman, Presidential Committee on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms; Engr. Yabagi Sani, National Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC); Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), Minister of Justice and Attorney-General for the Federation; Ms. Patience Oniha, Director-General, Debt Management Office; and Mr. Gabriel Okeowo, Country Director at BudgIT Foundation.