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Improving Lives                                       Research * Training * Advocacy


NIDEREF is a member of National Coalition on Gas Flaring and Oil Spills in the Niger Delta (NACGOND)

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Local government is the organized political unit that is closest to the people and, therefore, the foundation of the democratic structure. Local government is not only expected to deliver democratic values – transparent elections and good governance - at the grassroots, but also to ensure the dividends of democracy captured in service delivery and the improvement in the quality of life of the people. Local government also has a vital role in the management of conflict and natural resources at the local level. To emphasize the importance of local government in Nigeria, 21 per cent of federal allocation goes to the 774 local government councils in the country. However, numerous challenges have combined to undermine the ability of local government in Nigeria to contribute to democracy, sustainable development and conflict resolution. It is the weakest link in Nigeria’s three-tier government structure. Some of the challenges include lack of accountability and transparency. Corruption is generally perceived to be rife in the councils. The councils lack autonomy which undermines their potential as they are more or less under the thumb print of the state governors. The central objective of the LGRC, therefore, is to make local government work by delivering the expected outcomes. It intends to strengthen local government through advocacy, research and publications.   
Aims and Objectives of Local Government Resource Centre
1. To promote local government accountability, transparency, effective service delivery and the enhancement of grassroots/micro democracy through popular participation;
2. Increase in women representation in the local government councils; women constitute less than 5 percent of council in Rivers State, for instance.
3. Promote free and fair local elections, including monitoring these elections;
4. Build a local government data base for public access, including updates on the activities of the councils, through an interactive website to be created;
5. Lobby for local government reforms;
6. Assist local government councils with capacity building through training;
7. Assist the councils to expand their revenue portfolio through training in collaboration with other relevant agencies;
8. Undertake research and publications on local government affairs;
9. Develop tools, through research, for ensuring local government best practice that will be in consonance with international governance best practice;
10. Be a leading centre of local government advocacy in Nigeria
Some Recent Projects
Establishment of Local Government Resource Centre
The main objective of this project was the establishment of a Local Government Resource Centre through which NIDEREF would pursue its democracy and good governance advocacy initiative, emphasizing local government accountability and effective service delivery as well as the building of a local government data base. The project adopted the theme, Making Local Government Work, which symbolized the failure of the local government system in Nigeria. This theme has remained the overarching objective of NIDEREF’s local government advocacy programme. Project activities included community town hall meetings, a poster and handbill campaign, the use of radio jingles and a workshop on how to strengthen local government by making it transparent, accountable and the pursuit of effective service delivery.
Making Local Government Work
This project had the following objectives:
To promote financial accountability and transparency, particularly relating to the delivery of public services and development initiatives, by the local government authorities in Rivers State.
To raise awareness of the relevant provisions of the constitution, local statutes, and other laws governing both elected and unelected government officials, and to promote popular participation in governance at the local level in Rivers State.
In pursuit of these objectives, NIDEREF launched an accountability campaign featuring use of posters and handbills, radio jingles and several other advocacy activities, exhorting the people to hold their elected and appointed representatives accountable. The people were educated on how to use the relevant laws and the existing anti-corruption agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Investigation Commission (ICPC), and Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) to bring corrupt office holders to book. The organization emphasized public ownership of this project in order to make it effective and sustainable.
To emphasize service delivery and the development responsibility of local government councils, a workshop on Local Government on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was held as part of the project activities. Some of the participants heard of MDGs for the first time. The local government councils of Khana, Gokana, Tai and Eleme that were the focus of the project committed themselves to setting up desks for MDGs in their respective councils. Khana actually did.
Civic/voter Education: Toward Successful Non-Violent Elections in Rivers State
The main objectives of this project were:
i) To promote financial accountability and transparency as it concerned the delivery of public services and development initiatives by local government councils.
ii) To promote informed voter participation in 2011 elections and to raise awareness of the relevant provisions of the constitution, local statutes and other laws governing both elected and unelected government officials in Rivers State. 
The financial accountability campaign continued with the same methodology as in the previous year As for the second objective regarding the 2011 elections, NIDEREF played an active role in the Presidential, National Assembly (Congressional), governorship and state assembly elections which held in Nigeria from April 9 to April 26, 2011. This included voter education which culminated in a major workshop titled “Toward Successful Non-Violent Elections in Rivers State” which was held on March 17. Fifty (50) participants were invited but 110 turned up for the workshop. This demonstrated the popularity of NIDEREF’s election initiatives. These national elections were followed by the local government elections in Rivers State in May 2011. The voter education undertaken by NIDEREF covered both the national and local elections. Posters and handbills focusing on the elections were printed and distributed. On Election Day (May 29), NIDEREF kept track of events, based on the reports it was receiving from the field, and constantly liaised with the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission, the electoral umpire charged with the conduct of local elections in Rivers State. Again, by whatever means the ruling party swept almost all of the local council seats in Rivers State, as in 2008.
A major development during the period under consideration was the passage into law of the Freedom of Information Bill, which had been stagnated in the National Assembly (Congress) since 2004. This legislation (Freedom of Information Act) is one of those laws under which public officers could be held accountable. The implication of this law is that the secrecy that had provided cover for corruption and lack of transparency by public officers could now be broken. NIDEREF was part of the civil society network that campaigned for the passage of this Bill. The law is the outcome of this public pressure. This law is crucial for NIDEREF’s local government advocacy as the councils can be compelled through judicial process to release their financial records.
Enhancing Democracy Dividend: Local Government Accountability and Development
Project Goals and Objectives
1. The promotion of local government accountability and transparency in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria
2. Promotion of effective democracy,  local governance and development
3. Campaign for local government  reforms such as fiscal and administrative autonomy for local councils
4. Promotion of free and fair election in local councils
5. Creating public awareness on the state of local economy in the councils in order to enhance good governance
6. To facilitate improved delivery of public service
7. Encourage public participation in local governance
8. Building of a database for public access  including financial records and other activities update through an interactive website to be created and through the publication of  a periodic local government newsletter
9. Facilitate coordination as well as knowledge sharing among local councils
10. Assist local government councils with capacity building through training for effective service delivery
11. Assisting the local governments to expand their revenue capacity  in order to improve their productivity outcomes
12. And becoming a leading centre of local government advocacy and policy in Nigeria

Mission Statement
To mitigate poverty and conflict in the Niger Delta through good governance and the sustainable management of the region's environment and natural resources.

Office: No 6 Rumuchakara Close, Choba, Port Harcourt

Email : info@nideref.org

Telephone: 08112096344

Vision Statement
 A Niger Delta that enjoys prosperity through good governance,
sustainable management and equitable distribution of the proceeds of the
region’s environment and natural resources.

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