Create a platform to drive government engagement with citizens

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Undoubtedly, sustained advocacy on the need to strengthen the open government initiative has been given a new impetus with the federal government’s official unveiling of the Presidential Delivery Tracker (PDT) and related website developed by the Central development coordination (CDCU).

The CDCU is a citizen-centric mobile application designed to enable citizens to assess project implementation and delivery of results in order to strengthen public accountability and improve service delivery by government institutions. It is also designed to periodically monitor, review and report on the activities of MDAs, the performance of Ministers and Permanent Secretaries, among others, in carrying out their ministerial mandates.

As a citizen-based mobile tracking application, the PDT allows citizens to send on-the-spot feedback on project implementation as part of overall measures to promote public accountability and improve service delivery. services by government institutions. Indeed, this decision is an additional step to ensure the active participation of citizens in the governance process, as advocated by the precursors of the Open Government Partnership.

It should be mentioned that the Open Government Partnership is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. It seeks to promote access to information, civic participation and public accountability.

The place of citizen engagement, which is a form of interaction between citizens and their government, in a vibrant democracy cannot be underestimated. This understanding may have underscored the federal government’s decision to launch the TDP, which focuses on tracking key projects and programs being implemented toward the achievement of the current administration’s nine priority areas.

LEADERSHIP Weekend recalls that in 2019, the administration identified nine priorities as key result areas against which to measure the government’s performance in service delivery. Priorities include stabilizing the macro economy; achieving food security; ensure energy self-sufficiency in electricity and petroleum products; improving transport and other infrastructure; stimulate industrialization by focusing on SMEs; improve the health, education and productivity of Nigerians; improving social inclusion and reducing poverty; fighting corruption and improving governance; and ensure the safety of all citizens.

Naturally, these priority areas are specified in ministerial mandates with the aim of improving performance management of service delivery within all Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
Years after the implementation of the projects and programs by all the ministries in accordance with their performance obligations, the government decided to upload them on the PDT website and the citizens, via their mobile phones, can have information of first hand on all projects.

The PDT App is therefore a co-creation platform that aims to connect citizens to governance in Nigeria by increasing citizen access to priority Federal Government policies, programs and projects.
Essentially, the app aims to promote transparency and expand access to reporting on presidential priority policies, programs and projects by incorporating citizens as a third reporting layer to offer vital information that will facilitate effective service delivery.
Addressing a rally on the official occasion of the launch of the website, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said it was set up to monitor, review and report periodically to the President on the performance of departments in delivering ministerial mandates with a view to achieving priority areas.
Mustapha noted that the idea led the service delivery initiative to incorporate a systematic citizen feedback mechanism “in recognition of the essential role of citizens in promoting inclusive and citizen-centric governance.” .
“The objective of developing the Citizens app and website is to enable citizens to accurately report and provide feedback on the implementation of government programs and projects; participate in the coordination of federal government interventions in their localities and in the implementation of government projects,” enthused Mustapha.
Continuing, the SGF listed other goals of the app, including highlighting critical issues with government programs and projects that impede the delivery of key services to citizens; advocate and educate other citizens and stakeholders on their civic responsibilities by encouraging the use of the Citizen Feedback Platform to hold government accountable.
For her part, Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed said that this “will help move the process of integrating performance management processes forward and aligning the performance framework for monitoring service delivery by MDA”.
She expressed optimism that the launch of the website will mark the beginning of a new era of collaboration, exchange of knowledge and best practices around development challenges common to all MDAs. “Once this is achieved, it will help the nation address common pressing development challenges and advance the process of integrating performance management processes.”
It was found that the app is designed to allow citizens to report on priority projects and programs being implemented in their environment, while providing citizens with the opportunity to provide an assessment of the level of implementation.
Fundamentally, the Citizen Engagement Initiative is in line with the growing global demand from civil society and citizens for a greater say in public decision-making, and the desire of many governments to improve trust and to be more inclusive and responsive to citizens’ needs.
The key is to strengthen people’s participation in local decision-making processes in a sustainable way, which goes beyond listening to people but makes the development process more inclusive. CDCU intends to empower citizens to have their voices heard, create citizen engagement programs that work, and participation that increases the benefits if discussed with people.
In a terse remark, the Development Director of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Nigeria, Chris Pycroft, hailed the initiative, describing delivery tracking as an important incentive that should be encouraged across all three levels of government. .
“It is important that citizens not only give their opinion on the implementation of government projects, but that they can demand action if the projects are not delivered.
“Citizen participation in governance ensures that there is an explicit understanding that government will provide essential services and that in return citizens will fulfill their civic duties,” Pycroft added.
The PDT and CDCU website is expected to serve as a medium for disseminating information on public service delivery to citizens, receiving feedback from the public and identifying/suggesting improvements . Moreover, it will also foster citizen voice, discussion and debate to demand the improvement of services.
Tellingly, though relatively late in the life of this administration, the launch of the PDT and CDCU website will further cement the movement to open up governance activities and raise the bar for citizen engagement.
Indeed, this aligns perfectly with the Open Government Partnership initiative which encourages government entities to establish citizen feedback mechanisms for more effective public-responsive services aimed at building trust in government.

As SGF has rightly noted, for the platform to fulfill its purpose, stakeholders need to raise awareness of it so that citizens can use it as intended.
Interestingly, civil society is committed to working with government to ensure that the values ​​for which the project was designed are upheld.

Obialunanma Nnaobi-Ayodele is the Nigerian Co-Chair (Civil Society) of the Open Government Partnership. She listed some of the tangible results that civil society expects to see from the use of the app to include, so it shows the measure of government transparency and “the measure of trust, to what extent citizens believe that their engagement with this app will result in positive outcomes”.
While urging the media to give the app much-needed visibility and to ensure that every Nigerian who has access to a smart phone is aware of its existence and can contribute to it, Nnaobi-Ayodele expressed his optimism. that the app, “when fully operational, will encourage public action, help build trust in government and generally build on our democracy”

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