Five governorship candidates in Akwa Ibom State have signed the Open Governorship Manifesto to publicly symbolise their readiness to run an open government agenda, if elected.

The Manifesto, put together by Policy Alert and presented during the Akwa Ibom Governorship Debate organised by the Akwa Ibom State Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), was said to be aimed at committing the  candidates to implement the Open Governorship Partnership (OGP) in the state as the baton of government changes hands in May 2023.

Speaking during the presentation, Senior Programme Officer of Policy Alert, Mfon Gabriel, said: “The OGP is a global multi-stakeholder initiative that brings reformers in and outside of government to work together to create solutions that make government more transparent, accountable, and participatory. Nigeria signed on to the OGP in 2016 and so far, 25 states have signed on to the OGP, yet Akwa Ibom is one of the three states in the Niger Delta that has not yet signed on to the Partnership.”

He added that the Niger Delta presents an interesting case for subnational open government implementation as states in the region currently receive the highest in terms of federally allocated revenue compared to other states

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Policy Alert held that the signing of the Manifesto is part of an OpenGovTownHall series implemented by the Niger-Delta Open Government Observatory (NOGO), a civil society cluster working to strengthen the uptake and implementation of OGP in the region.

The body said NOGO is currently implemented in six states of the Niger Delta with support from USAID Nigeria/Palladium Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) project. The project is led by Policy Alert in partnership with Nigeria’s Open Government Partnership (OGP) Secretariat, Open Alliance, the Mail Newspaper, and The Roothub, among others. 

Those who who appeared at the debate and signed the manifesto  were Mr Iboro Otu of the African Action Congress (AAC), Mr Ezekiel Nyaetok of  African Democratic Congress (ADC), Dr David Essien Action Democratic Party (ADP).  Senator John James Akpanudoeghe of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and Senator Bassey Akpan of Young Progressives Party (YPP).

The candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in the State (PDP), Pastor Umo Eno and that of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Akan Udofia, were said to have have informed the organisers of the debate officially, of their withdrawal from the exercise.

Nothing was heard of more than ten candidates of other political parties who were equally absent.