Accomplishments on the CASARN project
Sir: ANEEJ has been implementing the CASARN project since December 2019 and it was expected to end in April 2021. The project was implemented as part of the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (ROLAC) Programme which is funded by the European Union and implemented by the British Council in Nigeria.
The project recognised that corruption is a major issue in Nigeria. The current administration has equally taken steps to tackle the challenge and to advance the rule of law. ANEEJ thus, designed the CASARN project to support government effort in this regard. The goal of the CASARN project is to enhance governance in Nigeria by contributing to the fight against corruption, strengthen rule of law and the protection of human rights by reinforcing prevention mechanisms and enhancing civil society and public engagement. The project is expected to lead to improved oversight, transparency and accountability in the management of resources, and, enhanced civil society public engagement and participation in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
In line with the goal and objectives of the project, ANEEJ has implemented a number of activities and has been involved in series of initiatives to advance governance and anti-corruption in Edo State and in Nigeria at large. ANEEJ has trained CSOs and journalists on several issues including Open Government Partnership (OGP) and its commitments, open contracting, public procurement observation and contract monitoring in Edo State, FOI issues and advocacy, budgeting and budget/project monitoring.
Through the implementation of the CASARN project, ANEEJ has evolved an innovative compliance ranking of federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies on the Nigeria Open Contracting Portal (NOCOPO). This ranking is the first of its kind in Nigeria and has been acknowledged by the OGP national secretariat, open contracting partnership international, Bureau of Public Procurement, development partners and other key stakeholders. The purpose of the ranking is to encourage MDAs to comply with the use of NOCOPO by publishing procurement data for public access and use, thereby improving transparency and accountability in the procurement process.
ANEEJ and other project partners also had fruitful engagement with several government agencies.
The CASARN project has opened up opportunities for CSOs to advance their work in a number of areas. Some of these areas include: research and publication around key governance and anti-corruption issues, procurement observation and reporting using open contracting portal and following up on bid openings by MDAs, budget monitoring using the Edo monitor-me portal, advocacy for the passage of freedom of information law in Edo State, monitoring the implementation of Edo State Integrity and Accountability Strategy, participation in the budget process.
All of the successes recorded were possible with the cooperation of our project partners – FOI Counsel Nigeria, Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC), Benin, Conference of NGOs, Edo State and the New Apostolic Church Centre for Development, Benin City. We will continue to work together with these organisations and others to advance the common good of the society.
Rev David Ugolor is ANEEJ executive director.