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Submitted by Ejiogu O. Emmanuel on
Quiet corruption is responsible to a large extent for extreme poverty and slow pace of the attainment of the MDGs in many countires, particularly in Africa. One of the effective tools that can be employed in tackling quiet corruption is the Citizens' Report Card, which we are championing in Nigeria. According to different estimates, Nigeria has earned $500 billion from crude oil since political independence. In spite of its huge oil revenues, Nigeria remains the only OPEC member still ranked among the poorest countries in the world. Regrettably, recent figures show that 75% of Nigerians live below the poverty line. The root cause of poverty in Nigeria is largely traceable to Nigeria’s peculiar democracy without the people. A requirement, which is currently drastically missing in the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Nigeria is the lack of effective monitoring and assessment of outcomes at all levels of government, as well as the citizens’ inability to hold officials to account. In order to deepen and institutionalize genuine democracy, therefore, it is imperative to evolve a practical intervention designed to project citizens’ voice, ensure their participation in governance, as well as empower them to hold officials to account. At the current rate of progress, most of Nigeria’s MDGs are unlikely to be achieved. This situation is largely traceable to the low level of citizens’ involvement in and oversight of government services. The same situation encourages Nigeria’s high level of endemic corruption and impunity. Corruption which is one of the major impediments to the actualization of the MDGs in Nigeria, has not only been a contributory factor to poor governance but is also the root cause of pervasive poverty. The Citizens’ Report Card (CRC) Initiative represents a simple but powerful tool not only for generating feedback regarding the effectiveness of a variety of public services but also for projecting citizens’ voice, providing citizens’ feedback and inputs to Government regarding the quality of service delivery, as well as empowering citizens to demand accountability from state actors. This mechanism will equally serve to ameliorate the disconnect between officials and the citizens, as well as move the anti-corruption rhetoric to concrete action through citizens’ involvement in governance. From the outcomes of SEDFA’s pilot of the CRC in Nigeria (which was supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) in 2008) as well as from best international practices, SEDFA reconfirmed that an additional major cause of persistent poverty in Nigeria is the high level of endemic corruption which is largely traceable to the low level of citizens’ involvement in and oversight of state actors’ activities. We are calling on all stakeholders across the world to support us (i.e. Self-Help Development Faciliators) in deepening and strengthening our implementation of the Citizens' Report Card in Nigeria as we seek to tackle quiet corruption as well as other forms of corruption in Nigeria. Please, contact us at sedfanigeria@yahoo.com or call +2348038935955