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Leaving a Legacy of Transparency in Nigeria

  • Date
  • April 2007

President Olusegun Obasanjo's government must act now to make permanent the critical transparency reforms it has achieved, before it leaves office, states this policy brief by the Revenue Watch Institute, an Open Society Institute grantee. Embedding these reforms in law is vital to ensuring that management of the country’s natural resources continues to be improved under the next civilian administration.

In 2003, after winning a second term, President Obasanjo's government launched a raft of groundbreaking measures intended to open oil and gas revenues to greater public scrutiny. These reforms included Nigeria's implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the publication of revenue transfers between the federal and state/local governments. As a result, critical information about oil and gas revenues is available in the public domain, and civil society groups are using this data to begin the process of exposing mismanagement and holding public officials accountable for how money generated from oil and gas is spent.

However, these reforms have yet to be institutionalized in law—and consequently they could easily be discontinued when the next administration assumes office.

This policy brief highlights how the revenue transparency reforms have served the public interest and how civil society actors are utilizing these records to promote an improved standard of living for all Nigerians. The brief also argues that although revenue transparency is necessary, it must be accompanied by parallel efforts to publicly track government spending and continue to expand citizen access to information.

The Revenue Watch Institute is an independent, not-for-profit policy institute that works to improve democratic accountability in natural resource-rich countries by equipping citizens with the information, training, networks, and funding they need to become more effective monitors of government revenues and expenditures. RWI presently supports partners and affiliates in Azerbaijan, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Georgia, Ghana, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mauritania, Mexico, Mongolia, Nigeria, Peru, Russia, Sao Tome and Principe, and Sierra Leone.

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