Following half a decade of innovative impact and engagement especially in the Niger Delta region, a ceremony has been organised yesterday to commemorate the imminent end of the Strengthening Advocacy and Civic Engagement (SACE) project.
In a welcome address at the event held at Abuja, SACE’s deputy chief of party, Lydia Odeh, said though the project is coming to an end, “this is not the end. We expect to see more in the future, we expect our partners to go out with all they’ve learnt and we expect all of you to go back and continue this wonderful work.”
“Since our inception in 2014, we have strengthened civil society bodies to influence the development and implementation of key democratic reforms at the national, state and local levels,” she continued.
“Our commitment was to ensure civil society actors can and will continue to work with government and other stakeholders to create and implement sustainable governance reforms, an action that will benefit every citizen in Nigeria,” she added.
She told stakeholders present at the event that the project’s primary mandate is the strengthening of civil society capacity to influence reforms around transparency, accountability and good governance, and added that the team has done this remarkably well over the past five years.
“SACE has been able to discover and work with an alternative model of collaboration that aligns the diverse efforts of many actors towards the same social change goals,” she said.
She said rather than focus on the individual capacities of organisations, a quality that stands SACE out is that it adopts an ecosystem approach by influencing clusters of partner organisations to create collective impact. This is achieved using a method known as STAR, System for Transformation and Results, which enhances the organisational performance of CSOs.
Chief of party of SACE, Charles Abani, explained that the project is aimed at facilitating increased engagement and efficiency of civil society organisations (CSOs), towards ensuring public institutions serve the interests of citizens.
The activities of SACE, according to him, have led to the training of 8,600; advocacy reaching out to 120 million Twitter users; partnership with over 200 partners; and over 60 policy outcomes.
“But the real story, I think, is about amazing transformation in the way the society runs, a huge shift in how it works using collective impact and really speaking to that mantra: If you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.”
While giving his remarks, PIND executive director, Dr Dara Akala, commended the project team for a job well done and urged all actors in the room to continue using their resources in pushing for responsive governance, inclusive and equitable economic growth “not only in Niger Delta region, but in Nigeria as a whole.”
“SACE was a partnership that really worked and we are very proud of the excellent results we have achieved together by working creatively and leveraging resources to bring change to the Niger Delta,” he said.
“From the implementation of the SACE project that began in 2014 with the selection of partners and the initial establishment of advocacy clusters; to the capacity building of CSOs, design and implementation of advocacy initiatives – the results have been excellent. Through this model, SACE has created a growing web of interconnected individuals, organisations and communication platforms dedicated to issues-based advocacy and development.”
The PIND executive director also appreciated Chemonics International, Root Change, partners in government and the USAID mission in Nigeria for their exemplary commitment to the SACE project implementation.
He invited more development partners to penetrate the Niger Delta “as there is room for many more of this type of partnership in the region to maximize our development impact”.
SACE, a governance project which became operational in January 2014, is implemented by Chemonics International and has received support from both the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND).
Through the project, PIND has been able to support the works of a number of CSOs and Business Membership Organisations in the Niger Delta, including Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), Citizens Centre for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR), Leadership Initiative for Transformation and Empowerment (LITE-Africa), Youth Alive Foundation (YAF), among others.
Also in attendance at the close out ceremony were Ted LeVasseur, Director of Chemonics; Mallam Muhammad Bashir Mai-Bornu, Chief of Staff to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory; Blair King, Director of USAID Nigeria’s Office of Peace and Democratic Governance; and Bose Eitokpah, PIND Capacity Building Programme Manager, Bose Eitokpah.