|Home Instructors Journals ContactUs|
AFRICAN PEER REVIEW MECHANISM, NIGERIA’S DEMOCRACY AND GOOD GOVERNANCE
Ukertor Gabriel Moti
Department of Public Administration, University of Abuja, Nigeria
Gabriel A. Gundu
Director, APRM, The Presidency, Abuja, Nigeria
Nigeria is one of 28 African countries that have acceded to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM,) , a self-monitoring tool of Member States of the African Union (AU) with the objectives of fostering the adoption of policies, standards, and practices that can lead to political stability, high economic growth, sustainable development and accelerated regional and economic integration. Nigeria has completed a Country Self-Assessment project, hosted a Country Review Mission (CRM) and produced a Country Review Report (CRR) and has been peer-reviewed. The paper is an overview of the Democracy and Good Political Governance theme. It examined the various findings of the Self-Assessment Report as well as the Country Review Report and observes that although Nigeria has made appreciable progress since independence, there are obvious gaps that have marred the country’s good governance record. The paper recommends among other things a review of the electoral system, strengthening and empowering institutions to fight corruption, engaging government by civil society to ensure accountability, transparency and adherence to democratic norms, and above all the political will to carry through with political reforms aimed at deepening and broadening democracy and good political governance in Nigeria.
Key Words: Democracy; Governance; Peer-review; Development; Mechanism; Implementation.
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) was adopted by the African Union Heads of State and Government Summit held in Lusaka, Zambia in July 2001. It aims to eradicate poverty and to place countries, individually and collectively, on a path of sustainable growth and development, and at the same time to participate actively in the world economy and body politic. The five core principles of NEPAD are good governance; peace, stability and security; sound economic policy-making and management; effective partnerships; and domestic ownership and leadership.
Assessment of governance and development performance under the APRM is based on the codes, standards and objectives that are referenced in the Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance that was adopted at the 6th Summit of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee held in Abuja, Nigeria on 9 March, 2003. APRM reviews are conducted under the leadership of the African Peer Review (APR) Panel and consist of five interrelated stages that are defined in the APRM Base Document (Guidelines for Countries to Prepare for and Participate in the APRM). The APRM is open to all member states of the African Union. Thus far, 28 African countries have voluntarily acceded. Of the 28 member countries, six countries, namely, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa, Algeria and Benin, have been peer-reviewed and are currently implementing their National Programmes of Action (NPoA) (Cilliers,2002). Nigeria received a Country Review Mission (CRM) and was peer- reviewed in 2008.
The objective of the paper is to undertake an overview of the Country Report with specific emphasis on Democracy and Good Political Governance. Nigeria returned to democratic governance in 1999 and having been peer-reviewed, eight years later, it will be significant to evaluate what the democracy and good political governance situation is. In doing this, the paper examines the African Peer Review concept; the implementation of the APRM Process in Nigeria; the methodology used in preparing the Country Self-Assessment Report (CSAR) before undertaking an overview of the outcome.
The African Peer Review Mechanism Concept
The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), a flagship programme of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development is an assessment system voluntarily and mutually adopted by Member States of the African Union for assessing their performance. It is systematic self-monitoring instrument for enthroning and deepening good governance, because governance crisis is at the core of Africa’s problems of poverty and underdevelopment. It is open to every African country but non-membership neither attracts punitive measures nor sanctions. Its primary mandate is to encourage acceding countries to adopt policies and practices that promote good governance by ensuring that these policies and practices conform to agreed political, economic and corporate governance values, codes and standards, as well as lead to human security and political stability, high economic growth, sustainable development and accelerated sub-regional and continental economic integration (NEPAD, October 2001, Abuja).
It is a systematic examination and assessment of the performance of a State by other states (peers) or designated institutions or by a combination of both states and institutions (UNECA, 2002:9). In a peer review process, states or organs of institutions agree to some standard criteria and procedure and submit their programmes for scrutiny by selected states, or institutions, which after the exercise, will publish their observations and make recommendations for improvement. It may be argued that the practice is not generally unknown to Africa because for sometime, some countries in Africa have been allowing elections to be supervised or monitored by observer missions to ensure free and fair elections.
The inauguration of the APRM has been argued to undeniably, be a demonstration of African leaders’ collective aspiration for good governance (Moti, 2006). The overarching goal of the APRM is for all participating countries to accelerate their progress towards adopting and implementing the NEPAD priorities and programmes, achieving the mutually agreed objectives and compliance with the successful best practices in respect of each of the four thematic areas of governance and development namely: Democracy and Political Governance; Economic Governance and Management; Corporate Governance; and Socio-economic Development. It requires that each acceding country should carefully assess its own society and governance status through a broad-based participatory process, led by the government, culminating into the development of a National Programme of Action (NPoA). The NPoA is developed as solutions and policy options to fill-in the governance gaps, institutional weaknesses, and strengthen the areas of successful best practices as identified. It also has time-bound objectives to guide all stakeholders in the action required from government, the private sector, and the civil society to actualize the country’s improved governance vision.
However, given the differences of historical context and stages of development, countries have started from different baselines and are therefore, not expected to reach their highest level of performance at the same time. The rate of progress also depends critically on the level of commitment and political will of each country to take deliberate steps to realize its vision. To this end, acceding countries have committed themselves to encourage and support each other and exercise constructive peer dialogue and persuasion, where necessary, to ensure that all achieve compliance. The peer pressure can come in form of formal and informal dialogue by the peer states, public scrutiny and comparisons and ranking among states (Pagani, 2002; 16).
With regard to objectives, the APRM seeks to foster the adoption of policies, standards and practices that lead to political stability, high economic growth, sustainable development and enhanced regional cooperation and integration through inter-country sharing of experiences and reinforcement of successful best practices. This, inevitably, includes identifying deficiencies, and assessing the needs for capacity building of participatory countries. Thus, the APRM promotes peer learning and capacity building thereby making the process effective, credible, and acceptable.
The core principles that drive and underpin the Review process include: demonstrable commitment at the highest level of political leadership; national ownership and leadership by the in-country stakeholders; openness and popular participation; transparency; inclusiveness and accountability; and technical competence credibility and freedom from manipulation.
African Peer Review Mechanism Membership
The APRM is open to all member states of the African Union (AU). Thus far, 28 African countries have voluntarily acceded. Accession entails undertaking to submit to periodic peer reviews and facilitating such reviews. It also includes committing to the implementation of the National Programme of Action arising from the review and operationalisation of the agreed parameters for good governance across the four thematic areas.
Table 1. Countries that have joined the APRM between March 2003 and May 2008
Source: APR, Secretariat, May 2008.
The statistics indicate that of the 28 countries, 4 are from Central Africa, East Africa has 5, North Africa 3, Southern Africa 7, and West Africa 9. Of these 28 member countries, six countries, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa, Algeria, Benin, have been peer reviewed and are implementing their National Programme of Action. Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Uganda were peer reviewed in 2008 but yet to commence implementation of their NPoAs. Lesotho, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia have received a Country Support Mission (CSM). The remaining 14 countries have yet to formally launch the APRM Process (Country Review Report, May 2008).
The African Peer Review Process
The African Peer Review process is divided into three major phases. Phases 1 comprises the preliminaries to be met by an African Union member state aspiring to accede to the African Peer Review Mechanism. These include voluntary adoption of the NEPAD Declaration Document (2002), formal subscription to the APRM, formal accession to the APRM, and hosting of the Country Support Mission (CSM). The CSM, usually preceded by an Advance Mission, is undertaken for the primary purpose of assessing the degree of preparedness, and capacity of an acceding country to proceed with the substantive country review process.
Phase 2 runs the stage Country Review Process as spelt out in the APRM core documents:
Stage One basically entails information gathering. This involves a baseline study of the political, economic, corporate governance, and socio-economic development environment in the country under review. During this stage, the affected country conducts self-assessment, using the APRM Master Questionnaires as a guide and survey instrument, and thereafter produces a Country Self-Assessment Report (CSAR) as well as formulates a preliminary National Programme of Action (NPoA), while the APR Continental Secretariat first develops a background document and later prepares a Country Issues Paper (CIP) setting out that country’s governance challenges/gaps, institutional weaknesses and successful best practices.
Stage two concerns the Country Review Mission (CRM). This stage is informed by the analysis already concluded in stage one. The Mission consults extensively with government officials, parliamentarians, representatives of political parties, the business community, representatives of the civil society ( including the media, academia, trade unions, non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, and rural communities), and representatives of the international organizations in the host country.
Stage three involves the preparation of the Mission’s Country Review Report (CRR) and mainly concerns the Mission itself. The CRR is based on the findings from the Country Review Mission. The CRR is designed to clearly summarize all the findings and analyze their implications for the country’s improved governance. The Mission’s draft CRR is first discussed with the government of the reviewed country, and its views are appended to it.
Stage four begins when the APR Continental Secretariat submits the Mission’s CRR to the APR Forum. The Forum meets to consider the CRR and the APR Panel’s recommendations, and decides on the appropriate action(s) to take in accordance with its mandate. This stage ends with the Chairperson of the APR Forum communicating the decisions of the Forum to the Head of State and Government of the reviewed country.
Stage five involves making public the adopted CRR. It is tabled formally and publicly in key regional and sub-regional structures such as the Summit of the African Union, Pan-African Parliament, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Peace and Security Council, and Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOC) of the African Union, as well as the Regional Economic Community of which the reviewed country is a member (in the case of Nigeria, ECOWAS).
Phase 3 focuses on the National Programme of Action implementation. Its primary thrust is to ensure due diligence in the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the adopted NPoA. The NPoA document provides clearly defined time-bound commitments on key governance and development priorities over the next five years, including identified key implementation stakeholders, and activity-based budgeting estimates for each of the commitments (APRM, Base Document).
The African Peer Review Mechanism in Nigeria
As part of the implementation strategy, five Lead Research Organizations (LROs) were commissioned to conduct the Country Self-Assessment exercise in the APRM thematic areas and the Mass Household Survey combining the four thematic areas. These organizations were: National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Abuja for Democracy and Political Governance; African Institute for Applied Economics (AIAE), Enugu for Economic Governance and Management; Research and Marketing Services Ltd. (RMSL), Lagos for Socio-Economic Development The National Bureau of Statistics as the apex statistics agency for all the three tiers of government responsible for the development and management of official statistics (it collects, compiles, analyses, interprets, publishes, and disseminates statistical information alone or in collaboration with other agencies), conducted the Mass Household Survey in respect of all the four thematic areas (Country Self-Assessment Report Vol. 1, 2008).
After undertaking the national self-assessment process,
the draft Country Self-Assessment Report (CSAR) and NPoA were collated by the end
Methodology of the Country Self-Assessment Project
The Country Self-Assessment project which outcome is the Country Self-Assessment Report covered the APRM four thematic areas since Nigeria’s independence in October 1960, and cuts across the country’s 36 States as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
The methodological approach included the domestication of the APRM Master Questionnaire which was used in conducting the Mass Household Survey and Elite/Decision-Maker Interviews. It was also used to guide the Desk Research and to develop issues and prepare questions for the Focus Group Discussions. In other words, four instruments were used for the assessment process:
The Desk Research
The Desk Research Instrument was used to review documents and the recorded views of the elite group on the quality of governance and development issues in the country. The Mass Household Survey (MHS) was designed to capture the perceptions of the people at the grassroots through the administration of the domesticated APRM Master Questionnaire on the quality of governance in the country. The national sample size used was 22,200 Household units. The survey covered all of Nigeria’s 109 Senatorial Districts. One (1) Local Government Area (LGA) was selected per senatorial district of the 36 States of the federation and three (3) Area Councils (ACs) in the national senatorial district of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Ten Enumeration Areas (10EAs) were selected for each LGA/AC. Finally, twenty Households Units (20 HHs) were selected from each enumeration area. In other words, the survey covered 22,200 HHs, 1,110 EAs, in 111 LGAs in 109 Senatorial Districts of 36 States of the federation and, FCT, Abuja. The selection of the respondents was guided by the principle of demographic inclusiveness of 35% as adult males, 35% as adult females, and 30% as youth of both sexes.
The Elite/Decision-maker Interview
The Focus Group Discussion (FGD)
The Focus Group Discussion Instrument was used in assessing the perceptions of the non-elite and local opinion leaders, through issue-based discussions on quality of governance in the country. The average national sample size was two FGDs for each of four Lead Research Organizations in two States in each of Nigeria’s six geo-political zones and the FCT, Abuja. Each discussion group comprised 6-8 discussants (CSAR Vol. 1, 2008).
Democracy and Good Political Governance: An Overview
The objective of the survey of democracy and good political governance was to provide a comprehensive assessment of the progress attained by Nigeria since independence in the sphere of democracy and good governance, and how this is compared to International Standards and Codes in Democracy and Good Governance. The evaluation was based on the issues which define peace and human security, the existence of a stable political order with an acceptable leadership succession process, promotions of conditions for the development of individuals and their communities and the protection of personal liberty (CSAR, 2008:39).
The key issues addressed include the following:
· Prevention and reduction of intra-and inter-state conflicts;
· Constitutional democracy, including periodic competition and opportunity for electoral choice, the rule of law, citizen rights and supremacy of the constitution;
· Promotion and protection of economic, social and cultural rights as enshrined in African and International Human Rights instruments;
· Upholding the separation of powers including protection of the independence of the judiciary and of an effective legislature;
· Accountability, efficiency and effectiveness of civil servants and other public officers;
· Fighting corruption in the political sphere;
· Promotion and protection of the rights of women;
· Promotion and protection of the rights of children and young persons; and
· Promotion and protection of the rights of vulnerable groups including the physically challenged and the poor (CSAR, 2008:39-40).
Ratification and Domestication of International Conventions
The report observed that Nigeria has signed, ratified and domesticated several International Conventions. However, a culture of respect for human rights has not evolved and taken roots in the country because of prolonged periods of military rule which witnessed widespread human rights abuses with no effective remedies. Even under civil democratic rules abuses of human rights have persisted because of ingrained attitudes of disregard for the rights of ordinary citizens, especially by law enforcement agencies (Country Review Report, 2008:5).
Nigeria has witnessed an increase in the scope and intensity of conflicts since the return to civil rule in May 1999. The rising tide of ethno-religious violence across the country’s urban and rural areas has resulted in massive destruction of lives and property, human rights violations by security forces and thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs). The violence and militancy in the Niger Delta area has economic consequences as it affects the production of oil, Nigeria’s main revenue earner. Overall, these conflicts and other forms of communal conflicts pose a threat to the viability of Nigeria’s democratic process.
In the area of constitutional democracy, evidence from Elite/Decision-Maker Interview, October, 2006, indicate that 36% of respondents said checks and balances in the Nigerian political system are significant; 18% indicate there are very significant checks and balances; 21% indicate there are limited checks and balances; 18% indicate there are very few checks and balances; while 40% indicate there are no checks and balances.
Table 2. Checks and Balances in the Nigerian System
Source: Elite/ Decision-Maker Interview, October, 2006.
There is no doubt that there exists a glaring unequal power relationship between the central government and the constituents, calling to question the character of Nigeria’s federal system.
The Electoral System
Nigeria’s 1999 constitution provides citizens with the right to change their government peacefully through periodic, free and fair elections held on the basis of universal suffrage. However, this right has been curtailed because competitive elections are generally marred by violence, fraud and the use of money to attain power. This has called to question not only the impartiality and independence of the electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), but also the credibility of the electoral system.
On the credibility of the electoral system for accurate voting, 55.5% of those interviewed in the Mass Household Survey said it is either rarely credible or not credible at all, while as a mechanism for challenging elections 70% said it is either rarely credible and transparent or not credible at all. And on the credibility of the system for accurate reporting results, only 10.9% thought that it is either largely credible or fully credible (CSAR, 2008:64). This agrees with the outcome of most of the Focus Group Discussions, where majority of respondents to the elite/decision-maker interview questionnaire think that the electoral system is only tangentially anchored on the rule of law. While 37.5% of them think that it is anchored on the rule of law only to some extent, 16.7% think that it is only anchored on the rule of law only to some extent. At the same time, 54.4% of them said that the electoral system is anchored on an independent national electoral body either to some extent or only to a very small extent, while 53% said that it is anchored on an independent electoral body at the state level to a very small extent or to some extent (Elite/Decision-Maker Interview, October 2006).
It is clear from the field evidence that the credibility of the electoral commission is very low. It seems that repeated manipulations by the government have painted a picture of the electoral body that does the bidding of the government at all times and in whatever circumstances. This damaging reputation of the electoral body and system needs to be corrected before Nigerian people can invest confidence in the outcome of elections. In the 2007 general elections for instance, the European Union Election Observation Mission report of 23 April 2007; National Democratic Institute - Summary of Observations and Recommendations of 23 April 2007; Commonwealth Secretariat - Departure Statement on Nigeria’s Election of 27 April; and International Republican Institute- Preliminary of IRI’s International Election Observation Mission, report of 22 April 2007 all described Nigeria’s general elections as “seriously flawed” and “fallen far short of basic international and regional standards for democratic elections”.
Promotion and Protection of Human Rights
On the promotion and protection of human rights, majority of respondents (56%) believe that provisions of social and cultural rights in the constitution are rarely or never respected, 45.6% believe that civil and political rights in the constitution are rarely or never respected, 66.4% believe that human rights violations are rarely or never monitored and reported by the government, while 78.8% believe that citizens rarely or never obtain full justice in courts regardless of social status (CSAR, 2008:70).
Table 3. Independence of the Judiciary
Source: CSAR, 2008:82
Fighting Corruption in the Political Sphere
Corruption is a huge challenge in the management of the public space in Nigeria. It is at the core of the crisis of governance, the establishment of a stable democratic order, rule of law, development and the welfare of citizens. Political corruption expressed either in the form of stealing public resources on the basis of access to state power or through money politics to subvert the will of the people has been there since independence. But the prevalence has increased. Indeed Transparency International had in the recent past consistently rated Nigeria as the 2nd most corrupt country in the world! An assessment of corruption in Nigeria shows that the rate is still very high. It is widely perceived to be very high.
According the Mass Household Survey (MHS) of 2006, about 54% of respondents view corruption as still very high, 30% think it is high, and only 5% think it is either low or very low. Corruption has damaged the international image of Nigeria and has stifled the inflow of foreign direct investment. Political corruption undermines democratic and economic well-being and reduces accountability and representation in policy making. It leads to corruption in other spheres of life, either by design, or by example or through the failure of elected leaders to implement anti-corruption laws and promote transparent practices. Other forms of corruption in Nigeria apart from political corruption include:
Below is the assessment of the level of corruption in Nigeria.
Table 4. Assessment of the Level of Corruption in Nigeria
Source: Mass Household Survey, October, 2006.
The Nigerian government has put in place certain institutions and mechanisms to fight corruption. The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), (this requires the declaration of assets by public officials), and Due Process. Although these anti-corruption agencies were designed to extirpate corruption in Nigeria, at the operational level, several constraints are being encountered, due mainly to insufficient coordination of anti-corruption work within the public sector, inadequate funding, and the raising of serious questions about their effectiveness, efficiency and impartiality. Below is an assessment of the effectiveness of these anti-corruption bodies.
Table 5. Effectiveness of Anti-Corruption Bodies
Source: Mass Household Survey, October, 2006.
Based on the above, apart from continuous political education, the following recommendations are made to deepen and broaden democracy and good political governance in Nigeria.
APRM, Base Document (Guidelines For Countries to Prepare for and Participate in the APRM).
APRM, Elite/Decision –Maker Interview, October 2006.
APRM, Country Review Report (CRR), No. 8, May 2008.
APRM, Mass Household Survey, October 2006
APRM, Nigeria Country Self-Assessment Vol. 1, Country Self- Assessment Report (CSAR), January 2008.
Cilliers (2002), NEPAD’s Peer Review Mechanism ISS Paper 64, November 2002
Moti U.G. (2006), “The NEPAD and the International Community: What Manner of Partnership?” in Ityavyar D. and Gundu Z.A. (2006), NEPAD and the Challenges of Development in Nigeria. (INTER-GENDDER Monograph Series with support from CIDA), Jos, Nigeria.
Pagani L. (2002), “Peer Review as a tool for Change: An Analysis of the OECD Working Method”, African Security Review.
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Document, October 2001, Abuja, Nigeria.