The Role of Open Data in Strengthening Nigerian Democracy

June 11, 2019
02:00 pm - 03:30 pm

about the event

Transparent, accessible, and credible data has emerged as a key tool for safeguarding the integrity of Nigeria’s democracy against conflict, corruption, and abuses of power. Data empowers civil society, journalists, and citizens to hold power-holders accountable and to expose and address corruption. Data equips government to make policy by providing foundational information about the Nigerian population and its needs. Data improves Nigeria’s information space, countering disinformation and enhancing the quality of reporting. Yet, data has not been used to its full potential in Nigeria. Though the government is increasingly releasing data to the public, it is often inaccessible and difficult to understand. Further, lack of capacity and political will has hindered robust data collection on critical issues. In his presentation, Joshua Olufemi, head of knowledge and innovation at Premium Times Centre for Investigative Reporting and Spring 2019 Reagan-Fascell Fellow, highlighted both the progress and persistent challenges in leveraging data for good governance and political accountability. He also provided recommendations for how to address these challenges and expand the use of data for democracy in Nigeria. Comments by Christopher O’Connor followed.



Joshua Olufemi, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow


with comments from

Christopher O’Connor, Senior Program Officer, National Endowment for Democracy


moderated by

Melissa Aten, Senior Program Officer, International Forum for Democratic Studies, National Endowment for Democracy


about the speakers

Joshua Olufemi is a media innovation and development executive with ten years of experience in investigative journalism, open data advocacy, civic innovation, and media development in Nigeria.  Currently the head of knowledge and innovation at Premium Times and Program Director at the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) in Abuja, he has trained over 300 journalists across Nigeria on data-driven journalism and has managed more than eight accountability and governance projects on a range of issues, including election monitoring, public procurement, health, and press freedom.  He also contributes to an online open contracting platform called Budeshi, which makes data on government budgets and public services accessible to the public.  He has helped to establish data journalism desks for two leading investigative journalism organizations, Premium Times and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting.  He also led a parliamentary watch project, which contributed to a 20 percent budget cut for the Nigerian parliament in 2015 and further cuts in 2016 and 2017.  During his fellowship, Mr. Olufemi plans to develop a data journalism platform called DataPhyte, with the purpose of providing citizens with access to data and analysis on the governance of Nigeria’s oil, gas, and health sectors.

Christopher O’Connor is senior program officer for West Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world. Christopher oversees a diverse civil society grants program in Nigeria that aims to strengthen democracy, improve human rights, and consolidate peace. He also works on West Africa regional, Liberia, and Ghana governance projects. Prior to joining NED, Christopher served as an International Development Fellow with Catholic Relief Services in Abuja, Nigeria, where he worked on peacebuilding and good governance projects. He received his MA in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and his BA in African, Asian, and Russian History from Washington and Lee University.


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