Reported by Isidore Kpotufe and Aboagye Mintah
The Center for Democracy and Development (CDD – West Africa) with the support of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) organized a workshop – bringing together civil society groups and experts from Niger, Burkina Faso, Benin, Senegal, Ghana, Guinea Conakry and Nigeria. The workshop was held at Novotel, Cotonou, Benin from 9 to 11 May 2016.
The objectives of the workshop are:
- To facilitate discussion on success stories and challenges of campaign promise tracking interventions amongst advocates of democratic accountability;
- And to foster partnership and capacity building on promise tracking initiative; methods of data gathering (including fact-checking), recording and retrieval, communication and advocacy, amongst others.
Representatives of Civil Society Groups present at the Workshop took turns to make presentations relating to challenges, success stories and opportunities in promise tracking projects in their respective countries. The various presentations focused on the following: promise tracking framework, metrics design and formulation, advocacy and stakeholder engagement, data sources among others.
In her submission, the Director of CDD-West Africa, Hassan Idayat noted that:
- Political parties should not and must not say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards;
- Politicians are accountable but so are citizens, what government achieves actually depends on the citizens.
- Sources of a campaign promise tracking project could include manifestoes (of the various political parties), media appearances (of Party members), positions papers, campaign websites, campaign trails among others.
She also made references to other Promise tracking projects notably, the Obameter (in the United States of America), the Morsi Meter (in Egypt) and Rouhanimeter (in Iran) and implored the participants to draw some lessons from those promise tracking projects.
Okechukwu Ibeanu, Professor of Political Science at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka made a presentation on the topic: “Metrics Formulation and Methodology for Promise Tracking”. He concluded that designing and implementing a Metrics should take into account the following factors:
- Volume of data (required and to be generated)
- Type of data
- And intended method of processing data
Aboagye Mintah, and Isidore Kpotufe represented IMANI, currently ranked the second most influential think tank in Sub-Sahara Africa by the Global Go To Think Tank Index of the University of Pennsylvania. Isidore Kpotufe, who is Head of IMANI Francophone at IMANI presented a paper on “Tracking Election Promises in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities”. He noted that any trackable election promise must be able to address the following questions:
- Which problem is the promise solving?
- Is the promise (solution) consistent with the problem
- Does the promise have a specific time-frame?
- Are the beneficiaries of the promise well defined and justified?
- What is the cost of implementing the promise?
- Where is the funding coming from?
- What are the estimated outcomes of the promise (when implemented)?
- What happens if the promise is not implemented? (this helps us to prioritise)
Isidore argued that these questions are enough to form the basis of any Political Manifestos or pre-election campaign promise evaluation. He shared IMANI’s experience in tracking campaign promises in Ghana. He made reference to the latest IMANIFESTO Project, a framework that assesses political parties’ manifestos (in Ghana) using a coding system comprised of quantitative indicators. Aboagye Mintah, Head of Business Development at IMANI, in his submission, posited that it important to build metrics that are credible and robust enough to drive media interests.
Participants, in their final remarks, admitted that the workshop built on their knowledge in campaign promise tracking and proved to be an avenue of learning and experience sharing.