Data

Location
63 1st Avenue
Abuja
Federal Capital Territory
900108
Nigeria
Sector
Non-Profit or Non Governmental

ORGANIZATION

Accountability Lab, Nigeria

December 8, 2021 Pan Khantidhara, Participedia Team
December 5, 2021 Oyinade Adekunle
October 8, 2021 Oyinade Adekunle
Location
63 1st Avenue
Abuja
Federal Capital Territory
900108
Nigeria
Sector
Non-Profit or Non Governmental

Accountability Lab Nigeria is part of a global trans-local network that makes governance work for people by supporting active citizens, responsible leaders, and accountable institutions to promote corrupt-free and accountable practices.

Mission and Purpose

The distrust between the government and its citizens has created a loophole in attaining development goals and agendas. This can be traced to the extent of corruption prevalent in Nigeria’s public space.[1] As a result, there is a limited number of youths actively involved in governance. Accountability Lab, Nigeria seeks to combat corruption by promoting acts of integrity visible in Nigeria and offers a beam of hope to disgruntled citizens.  Its vision is a country in which resources are used wisely, decisions benefit everyone fairly, and people lead secure lives. This is illustrated in AL Nigeria's three mutually-reinforcing objectives: to support a positive movement in fostering accountability and democracy; ensure the voices of communities are heard on accountability issues; and support collaboration around accountability and open governance through unlikely networks.

Origins and Development

Accountability Lab is described as a “global trans-local network” boasts of twelve network labs, four program partners, 104 staff, and a budget of four million dollars.[2] Established in Nepal in 2012, it has carved a niche for itself as a trans-local network rather than an international civic organization geared towards tackling corruption challenges through the implementation of creative solutions.  In January 2017, Accountability Lab, Nigeria (AL Nigeria) was inaugurated as one of the network labs of Accountability Lab. Mr. Odeh Friday’s (Country Director, AL Nigeria) desire to instill change and development through implementing change-oriented policies precipitated the establishment of Accountability Lab, Nigeria. In 2017, after an intensive recruitment exercise, Mr. Odeh Friday was bestowed with setting the groundwork for an Accountability Lab branch in Nigeria with the mission “to make governance work for people through supporting active citizens, responsible leaders, and accountable institutions.”[3] 


There is a need to instill hope in youth on the prospects of good governance and accountability in Nigeria’s public space. In the formative years, with headquarters in Abuja, the Board and staff capacity of Accountability Lab Nigeria comprised friends and family with a common goal of attaining set objectives rather than involvement based on qualification or experience.[4] However, it is pertinent to note that Accountability Lab, Nigeria, has evolved in personnel, policies, and activities. 

Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding

The richness of the staff and Board of directors has played a vital role in the effective administration of the organization and the level of achievements recorded. The Board of Directors includes Dr. Joe Abah (Country Director), Dr. Yemi Kale (Chairman), Mr. Odeh Friday (Secretary), Miss. Lola Aladesanmi (Board Member), Miss. Enene Ejembi (Board Member), Miss. Gloria Ekpo (Board Member), Miss. Saadatu Falila Hamu (Board Member), and Miss. Beverley Hatcher-Mbu (Board Member).[5] The staff is led by Odeh Friday (Country Director), Grace Okpara (Finance and Admin Manager), Prince Chukwuma (Communication Lead), Ehi Idakwo (Programs and Learning Manager), Mnenga Shiiwua (Project Officer), and Kelly Osuji (Project Officer).


Currently, there are fifteen full-time staff and twenty-five volunteers. The availability of volunteers nationwide is need-based depending on the project(s) being handled. During project execution, state volunteers are recruited with stipends to ensure task completion. In fostering youth development and advancement, there is the availability of interns who are corps members following National Youth Service Corps obligations (a mandatory one-year training for Nigerian graduates).[6]  To foster youth inclusivity, there is room for collaboration and volunteering opportunities accessible on its website. This is carried out in various forms: pro-bono services, co-hosting events, writing guest blogs, accountability ambassador, in-kind, and cash donations.[7] Employment opportunities and internship placements are also advertised on its official website. All staff, volunteers, interns are guided by the core value of integrity, innovation, humility, practicality, and collaboration.  


AL Nigeria has benefitted from the pedigree of its global office in fostering partnership and grants, particularly its relationship with the MacArthur Foundation. In 2019, Ford Foundation supported with $55,000 to kickstart the achievement of set objectives. Also, there was a partnership with the Government of the Netherlands, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Canadian Embassy, Luminate, National Endowment for Democracy, and VOICE (linked to OXFAM). Accountability Lab engages in training and consultancy for civic-society organizations setting up in Nigeria. Regarding local funding, Accountability Lab, Nigeria has reached out to possible donors based on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSO). It is still in the negotiation stage with a caveat of a transparent engagement. However, funding remains one of the challenges faced by Accountability Lab despite financial support from Accountability Lab (global office), probably due to its immense activities.[8] 

Specializations, Methods and Tools

Using Community-driven development (CDD) programs aimed at improving “transparency, participation, accountability, and enhance local capacity,”[9] AL Nigeria adopts methods and tools based on a three-prong approach: Value-Shifting campaigns; training and collaborative spaces; and eco-building. These approaches entail positive campaigns within and outside government, equipping changemakers with necessary tools, skills, and knowledge, and promotion of collaborative initiatives, respectively.[10] Accountability Lab adopts creative means of passing positive messages such as music, radio engagement, community outreach, consortium involvement, town hall meetings, trainings, coalition building, social media engagement, and multi-stakeholder dialogues.

Major Projects and Events

Accountability Lab, Nigeria has engaged in a series of projects promoting positive actions and attitudes towards good governance and transparency. These projects include Integrity icons, Accountability Incubator, Voice2Rep (Voice To Represent), Peace and Social Cohesion Innovation Challenge, Civic Action Teams (formerly Citizen Helpdesks), and SDG16.[11]

 

The uniqueness of Accountability Lab’s approach in Integrity Icons is to encourage people to tell positive stories rather than emphasize the negative information of corruption prevalent in Nigeria’s public sector. Launched in October 2017 with the support of the Ford Foundation, the Integrity Icons project aims to reward and foster conversations on integrity among the citizens and government in Nigeria. This is a global campaign that cuts across various sectors nationwide. According to Accountability Lab, “we want to move away from ‘naming and shaming’ corrupt leaders and towards ‘naming and faming’ those bureaucrats that are working with integrity”[12] The criteria for nomination include: the individual must be a public servant, at least five years from retirement, and open to interviews.[13] The selection process for the Integrity Icons award entails submission of entries through nomination by Nigeria citizens and volunteers, hosting public forums and awareness on the importance of integrity in public service, background checks on the nominees by the ICPC, retired civil servants, and other independent judges from the private sector, CSOs, and the media; leading to the selection of five shortlisted candidates to receive an Integrity Icon award yearly. That is, “people who do things the right way and ensure we have services delivered to citizens in the right way without cutting corners or without corrupt practices,” particularly at local levels.[14] The volunteers’ nominations are based on tips or field investigations of prospective nominees. Consequently, the finalists are filmed, the episodes are shown on national television, played on the radio for a week, and posted on official social media accounts to create a national discussion offline and online. Citizens can vote for their favorites through SMS short-codes and the website- https://integrityicon.org. The winners are crowned in a national ceremony in Abuja.[15] The Integrity Icons for 2020 include Faith Momoh (a Nurse and Nutrition officer at a Local Government (LGA) secretariat in Ugwolawo Kogi state), Dr. Abiola Jimoh (Divisional Officer for the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, in Badagry, Lagos), Phillip Ezegbulam (Chief Secretary of the Police Service Commission in Nigeria), Dr. Mohammed Rabiu (a lecturer at Nassarawa State University) and Oyeronke Suebat(Deputy Provost, the College of Health and Technology in Lagos, Nigeria).[16] 

 

Founded in 2018, Accountability Incubatorfunded by the MacArthur Foundation, focuses on youth engagement and empowerment to inspire the implementation of accountability initiatives in various communities. Interested applicants who meet the criteria apply via Accountability Lab’s official website. Selected candidates engage in training (quarterly meet-ups and online modules), hands-on mentorship (support for the development of ideas), communications support (such as promo videos and blogs), networks (through pitch events and “friendraisers”), and other resources (an innovation fund).[17] In 2020, “Accountapreneurs” (Accountability Incubator participants) were selected with a focus on empowering youths with interests in the extractive, education, and health sectors. Similarly, the SDG16 initiative, with support from the Canadian government, organizes youth-oriented national competitions focusing on developing approaches and formulating innovative ideas proffering solutions to SDG16 related problems. This is in accordance with the United Nations Development Programme to achieve Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals on peace, justice, and strong institutions. One representative is selected from twenty states, and a winner is determined based on the peace-innovation idea presented for future implementation. The finalists present their initiatives at a three-day workshop organized by AL Nigeria, where three winners are selected. The winners are awarded laptops, networking opportunities, and spots in Accountability Incubator for one year to refine and develop their ideas. (Accountability Lab, “SDG16 Innovation Challenge,” https://accountabilitylab.org/our-work/sdg-16-innovation-challenge/). Some of the peace innovation ideas implemented include the Abuja Photo Festival and Hope Behind Bars in 2017.[18]

 

The tools deployed by AL Nigeria have resulted in positive changes in various sectors across the country. Notably, the Voice2Rep initiative sponsored by Luminate and the Government of the Netherlands engages young people through music. It connects to audiences using accountability-themed songs to foster the use of music to promote transparency. According to Friday Odeh, “it is an axiom that music is a universal language, and there is no better time than now to encourage young talent to lend their voices to social activism through their art now that the Nigerian music industry has transcended beyond our borders.”[19] For instance, in the 2018/2019 edition, an album was released featuring all the artists involved in the competition titled In These Present Times and available on all major streaming platforms, including iTunes and Amazon. The finalists go through professional training and mentoring programs, culminating in a national concert where a winner is voted. Although no prize money is involved, the winning songs are professionally produced and circulated nationally and internationally.[20] On August 26, 2021, a 13-album listening party was held, which “highlights the violation of human rights while uplifting the resilient spirit of citizens and promoting citizen’s collective responsibility in nation-building.”[21] 

 

To promote inclusivity in Nigeria, AL Nigeria initiated a project aimed at the government’s allocation of at least ten percent of Nigeria’s employment slots and provision of accessible building facilities for persons with disabilities. This entailed advocating for a Disability Act as Nigeria is one of the countries yet to implement policies that include accessible-inclined buildings and agenda. According to activist Grace Joy, “if we say that we are promoting accountability, we should not forget those who are living with disabilities.”[22]  In 2020, the COVID’19 lockdown and restrictions was a source of worry for AL Nigeria based on the inability and difficulty in meeting basic needs faced by persons living with disabilities in Nigeria.[23] As a member of Civil Society Coalition on Audit in Nigeria (CSCAN), AL Nigeria seeks to promote initiatives that tackle corrupt practices in Nigeria and improvement in increasing the political participation of person living with disabilities. This entails the inclusion of all citizens (tribe, religion, ability, and gender). In 2019, Nigeria signed the Disability Act to improve accessibility by those facing disability.  


In 2019, the Civic Action Teams was launched as a pioneering citizen feedback, dialogue, and community voice platform to ensure accountability in the development process. They collect critical information from communities and individuals, solving daily problems for citizens and closing the loop on challenges affecting the populace.[24]

 

Current Projects

Asides from the annual implementation of projects discussed, Accountabilitea Show, a radio program aired on local radio stations, is a recent addition to AL Nigeria’s initiatives. The radio stations include Darling 107.3 FM at 1-2 pm on Fridays (Imo State), Comfort 95.1 FM at 1-2 pm on Fridays (Akwa-Ibom State), and KU 92.7 FM at 10 am on Thursdays (Edo State). Also, some Integrity Icons and AL Nigeria’s activities are featured on Accountabilitea podcast (Accountability Lab global office’s podcast) to reach a global audience. AL Nigeria strives to “make governance work by supporting active citizens, responsible leaders, and accountable institutions while building capacity and enhancing knowledge within young changemakers.”[25]

Analysis and Lessons Learned

It is essential to note that all country stations share one website (a global website). This makes it quite challenging to isolate the activities and identify the achievements of Accountability Lab, Nigeria. Perhaps, the country stations should have individual website account while maintaining their global collaboration and presence on the global website. Also, the number of activities engaged in shows that more volunteers are needed to improve efficacy and reach. However, AL Nigeria continues in its goal of “ending impunity within government by building accountability and improving decision-making processes through citizen engagement and inclusion.”[26] 


According to Wilson Atumeyi, one of the beneficiaries of AL Nigeria’s initiatives, “the incubator program has availed me with several opportunities that have moved me from stage A to stage B…I know after the program there will be more room for opportunities.”[27] 

References    

[1] Vincent Ufuoma, “ICPC Pledges To Sustain New Ethics, Integrity In Fight Against Corruption,” March 18, 2021, ICIR,  https://www.icirnigeria.org/icpc-pledges-to-sustain-new-ethics-integrity-in-fight-against-corruption/ 

[2] “Home,” Accountability Labhttps://accountabilitylab.org/.

[3] “Our Vision and Mission,” Accountability Labhttps://accountabilitylab.org/about-us/.

[4] Interview with Odeh Friday, 38 years, Country Director, Accountability Lab, Nigeria on October 5, 2021.

[5] “Our Board of Directors,” Accountability Lab, https://accountabilitylab.org/our-governance/

[6] Interview with Odeh Friday, 38 years, Country Director, Accountability Lab, Nigeria on August 14, 2021.

[7] “Contact Us,” Accountability Lab, https://accountabilitylab.org/contact-us/#collaborate

[8] Interview with Odeh Friday, 38 years, Country Director, Accountability Lab, Nigeria on August 14, 2021.

[9] “Community Driven Development” Participedia, accessed September 20, 2021, https://participedia.net/method/7413

[10] “The Lab Has A Three-Pronged Approach To Building Accountability,” Accountability Lab, https://accountabilitylab.org/about-us/

[11] “Accountability Lab Nigeria,” Accountability Lab, https://accountabilitylab.org/about-us/country-office-nigeria/.

[12] Accountability Lab, Reports On Financial Statement, https://accountabilitylab.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/ALab-Audit-Report-2019_F.1.pdf, 2019, 7. 

[13] Interview with Odeh Friday, 38 years, Country Director, Accountability Lab, Nigeria on October 5, 2021.

[14] Okwe Obi, “Corruption: Reward System Introduced to Promote Integrity In Public Sector,” August 24, 2021, The Sun, https://www.sunnewsonline.com/corruption-reward-system-introduced-to-promote-integrity-in-public-sector/

[15] Accountability Lab, “An Accountability Lab Project,” https://integrityicon.org/about/ 

[16] Integrity Icons, YouTube, December 15, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jm8TnWr6xV4

[17] Accountability Lab, Reports On Financial Statement, https://accountabilitylab.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/ALab-Audit-Report-2019_F.1.pdf, 2019, 7.

[18] Interview, Odeh Friday.

[19] “Here’s How You Can Join Accountability Lab Nigeria’s Youth Advocacy Movement Via Vioce2Rep Project,” August 26, 2021, Bella Naija,  https://www.bellanaija.com/2021/08/accountability-lab/

[20] Philemon Nsongan, “Nigerian Musicians Sing For Election,”  February 6, 2019, Africa News, https://www.africanews.com/2019/02/06/nigerian-musicians-sing-for-election/

[21] “Here’s How You Can Join Accountability Lab Nigeria’s Youth Advocacy Movement Via Vioce2Rep Project,” August 26, 2021, Bella Naija,  https://www.bellanaija.com/2021/08/accountability-lab/

[22] “Accountability Lab Calls On Nigeria Youth To Embrace Culture Of Dignity And Discipline” January 29, 2021, NewsDay Nigeria,  https://newsdayonline.com.ng/accountability-lab-calls-on-nigeria-youth-to-embrace-culture-of-dignity-and-discipline/

[23] Interview, Odeh Friday.

[24] Accountability Lab, Reports On Financial Statement, 7.

[25] Interview, Odeh Friday.

[26] Lovina Anthony, “Lack Of Political Will Deepening Underdevelopment In Akwa Ibom Communities- Survey,”  September 26, 2021, Daily Post, https://dailypost.ng/2021/09/26/lack-of-political-will-deepening-underdevelopment-in-akwa-ibom-communities-survey/

[27] “How WaterWide Is Pushing For Clean Water For All In Nigeria,” July 29, 2020, Accountability Lab, https://accountabilitylab.org/how-waterwide-is-pushing-for-clean-water-for-all-in-nigeria/

 

External Links

Contact Information

Website: https://accountabilitylab.org/about-us/country-office-nigeria/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/accountlabng/

Twitter @accountlabng

Instagram @accountlabng

Integrity Icon website: https://integrityicon.org/nigeria/