The discovery of crude oil in Nigeria has unfortunately led to tensions between oil corporations and members of host communities. Most notable of these is the emergence of militancy in the country’s Niger Delta region, which first began in the early 1990s and has caused considerable disruption in energy supply with political and religious implications. In the Niger Delta region, extractive industries generate 10% of Nigeria’s GDP, contribute about 70% of Government revenue and 83% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings, but still has 69% of the host population living in poverty. Additionally, Nigeria loses an average of $11million daily to corrupt activities arising from oil theft, pipeline vandalism, opaque contracting, and licensing processes.
The channels of communication between decision-makers and citizens around these issues are either non-existent or poorly designed, and communities in the Delta are often unaware of their rights or unable to hold decision-makers to account. Women, youth, and people with disabilities often do not have a voice in any sense of the word; and if they do, these voices are rarely heard. In the light of these issues, a CSO, Accountability Lab Nigeria, has identified the need and growth potential of solution-driven dialogue between host communities, government and stakeholders in the extractives sector and has set about on a journey to actualize this.
With the support of Ford Foundation, the Accountability Lab team visited community leaders in 3 oil-producing communities in Akwa Ibom state (Upenekang, Uquo and Uyenge) from the 13th to 16th of April, 2021 to discuss the Lab’s Civic Action Teams (CivActs) project; geared at ensuring accountability in the development process. CivActs aims to collect critical information from communities to solve daily problems for marginalized citizens, close the loop on challenges, and create tools that strengthen communities’ ability to self-advocate.
Accountability Lab Nigeria in the next 12 months intends to equip these communities, and marginalized groups in particular, who are affected by a lack of accountability in the extractives sector with useful citizen-generated data for self-advocacy, and disseminate accurate information to engage a broad audience, and create multi-stakeholder spaces that foster trust-building and solutions-driven dialogue. To discover more about the CivActs campaign, please visit: https://accountabilitylab.org/civicactionteams/