John Patrick Ngoyi: What mutual accountability?

    John Patrick Ngoyi, director of the Justice, Development and Peace Commission in Nigeria. Photo by: CIDSE / CC BY

    Mutual accountability has been at the center of recent agreements hammered out by world leaders to address global poverty and boost international development. As more stakeholders engage in development cooperation, how will that change accountability?

    We asked John Patrick Ngoyi, director of the Justice, Development and Peace Commission in Nigeria.

    What’s your take on development cooperation today?

    Unfortunately, in international cooperation – sorry, but self-interest seems to be the key driver. I say it’s unfortunates because that’s not sustainable. It may last a few years – ten years, twenty years, thirty years – but it will collapse. …

    Let’ find solutions that we can sustain together. So, that calls for a radical change in a relaxed mood, accepting responsibilities for the past and saying, “Well, we are where we are today because of what we did yesterday. What do we do today to make sure tomorrow will be different?”

    Define mutual accountability in international development?

    If we don’t protect ourselves, the boat will sink. We will go down together, including you who are exploiting. …

    Multiple accountability [is needed] not only for aid. Multiple accountability [is needed] for the company that [for instance] comes from Italy to exploit rubber somewhere in order to build shoes in Italy. There must be transparency on that company, not only in Italy – that company must also be accountable and transparent for the government where they are exploiting and people of the community where they are going to build their factory.

    Your message to the international donor community?

    I am simply saying, let’s become existentially honest. If history and practice have shown us deficiencies, let’s address those deficiencies.

    My conviction is this: We may only be the first to go; you will stay behind and follow us. You cannot destroy the environment in Africa and think you will be safe in Europe: The trees you are destroying in Africa to come and get nice furniture in Europe – it’s OK today, but tomorrow, when the Horn of Africa is desert, you’ll pay for it.

    In other words, let these polices become more open and more realistic. I am talking about changing our relationship, both horizontally and vertically. Horizontally … in Europe, in Africa and America. … We must be concerned about what happens somewhere else because we are in the same world.

    About the author

    • Elena L. Pasquini

      Elena Pasquini covers the development work of the European Union as well as various U.N. food and agricultural agencies for Devex News. Based in Rome, she also reports on Italy's aid reforms and attends the European Development Days and other events across Europe. She has interviewed top international development officials, including European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs. Elena has contributed to Italian and international magazines, newspapers and news portals since 1995.