How Does it Look to Put Data Use in Context: opportunities and challenges for the use of data for accountability in Nigeria

Jorge Florez
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The process leading from producing data to using data towards improved development results is both technical and political. Together with Transparency and Accountability Initiative funder collaborative (TAI), Global Integrity produced a report that focuses on the complexities of political and technical dynamics to identify progress made and remaining opportunities and challenges to advance the use of data for accountability and corruption in Nigeria. 

Nigeria’s progress in advancing transparency, accountability, and anti-corruption agendas is reflected in the adoption of commitments through international fora, the launch of platforms to disclose information, and the innovative work led by a vibrant community of civil society organizations. Global Integrity carried out a literature review and interviews with Nigerian experts to explore the following questions:

  • How do civil society strategies promoting data use differ across user groups and how do those strategies affect the achievement of project goals?
  • How do civil society strategies to promote data use differ across administrative levels and how do those strategies affect the achievement of project goals?
  • How do international mechanisms support or hinder data for accountability initiatives?

These questions are part of a broader set of learning questions of TAI. TAI’s Data for Accountability Initiative aims to assess progress and remaining challenges around the use of data for anti-corruption. This review was developed with Global Integrity as the learning partner, and in Nigeria is complemented with in-depth data availability and uptake activities led by Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) on illicit assets and Public Private Development Centre (PPDC) on public procurement in Nigeria.    

What did we find? There is significant progress in securing  high-level political commitment and increasing the capacity of civil society organizations; but the implementation of government commitments has not been effective in overcoming most of the challenges identified in previous TAI research. We explored causes of this mixed progress and provide insights that could inform future efforts to support local champions in addressing the system dynamics that are hindering progress in the country. The main findings are grouped in four themes:

Issues hindering efforts to open up data:

  • High level political support for the use of data for anticorruption is mixed and fails to reach bureaucracy
  • Incentives for data publication and use in government are weak and not enforced
  • Data production and publication run parallel to procurement and anti-corruption practices, including data use and decision making 

Building blocks for effective data use:  

  • Corruption has remained high in the political agenda sparking citizens’ interest and mobilization, yet corruption messaging needs to evolve to effectively take advantage
  • Civil society and media capacities to access and use data to fight corruption and address issues that are relevant to citizens have increased significantly
  • There has been a diversification of entry points to use data to engage government agencies and demand accountability

Subnational level Dynamics:

  • Increased interest by subnational governments to publish data has been mostly donor driven
  • Risk of replicating dynamics of publishing low quality data and low data use at the subnational level

The role of international mechanisms and Development partners

  • International mechanisms that have kickstarted dynamics for data publication and dialogue between government and civil society have primarily focused on technical support for data publication
  • Low levels of national investment in the implementation of international commitments have failed to create ownership in reforms 

We offer 5 recommendations for donors and INGOs supporting Nigerian organizations in the use of data to demand accountability and fight corruption: 

  1. Complement building public officials capacity with creating incentives for them to innovate using data in their work.
  2. Promote the diversification of goals in multi-stakeholder collaboration.
  3. Help generate incentives for reformers in government and anti-corruption agencies.
  4. Support and strengthen sustainable coalitions that cut across levels of government and sectors.
  5. Facilitate capacity building for collaboration between governments and with CSOs related to tracing and forfeiture of illicit assets

We will share further insights this summer from the innovative piloting work that HEDA and PPDC are leading.

Jorge Florez
Jorge Florez
Manager, Fiscal Governance

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