FG Make Budgetary Provision For OGP Activities, Counts Gains

The Federal Government said it has made provision in the 2023 budget to fund activities of Open Government Partnership, with an Executive Order awaiting transmission and assent of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Minister of State for Budget and National planning, Clem Agba said this while briefing journalists after the one week official visit of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Global team led by its Chief Executive, Sanjay Pradhan to Nigeria.

According to the Minister, aside the provision in the budget to fund the activities of OGP, an office space has also been secured for the Government-Civil Society initiative aimed at enhancing transparency and accountability across the public sector Government and non-state actors.

Agba said, “As part of our commitment to institutionalising OGP in Nigeria, we have introduced a line item in the annual budget to fund OGP activities. An Executive Order has also been prepared, ready to be transmitted to the President for assent. We have secured accommodation for the Secretariat and the Secretariat has been adequately staffed.”

Speaking at the nation’s achievements through the OGP initiative since its inception, Agba said the signing of CAMA, PIA and the input by NEITI have earned it global acknowledgements and accolades.

“Our dear country has made giant strides in the global beneficial ownership transparency space. In the last two years, President Buhari has signed into law, the Company and Allied Matters Amendment Act 2020 and the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 two landmark legislations that will deepen the push for beneficial ownership transparency and accountability. A National Integrated Beneficial Ownership Portal being developed by Corporate Affairs Commission, will expand on the work done by NETTI in the extractive sector.

“Having recently secured His Excellency’s kind approval, Nigeria is now on its way to becoming part of the global Beneficial ownership Leadership Group, as part of further efforts to plug illicit financial flows,” Agba said.

Earlier, the Chief Executive Officer of OGP, Sanjay Pradhan while recounting Nigeria’s gains applauded the work done on the Beneficial Ownership portal being developed by the Corporate Affairs Commission, saying it will help to reduce illicit financial flows from the country.

“Nigeria is quite familiar with this phenomena where stole wealth is kept in anonymous companies and it escapes the citizens benefits. The world bank had estimated that between 1980 and 2010, 70% of the big corruption scandals involved anonymous shell companies. It is therefore the need to know the ownership of the companies through what we call Beneficial Ownership transparency. Knowing who the true owners are will actually stem the potentially of illicit outflow of $50billion.”

He further called on Nigeria to challenge herself and improve on some critical areas, especially in open contract which refers to procurement.

“My second message to the government has been that there are other areas that we need to make improvements on so it’s not all a bed of roses and we have outlined some areas including what can be done in the next several months before the elections.

“We say you can implement some very important innovations you have started such as open contracts and there are several other areas that people pointed out too and it’s important to institutionalized logic so it outlasts political transitions and elections,” Pradhan said.

The OGP Chair, Aidan Eyakuze also called on Nigerians to make adequate use of the platform to make their inputs and hold the government accountable.

“Pay attention to platforms that are being opened up to hold governments to account. I want to use it as an invitation to pay attention to what is happening with various government usual processes and information and getting involve in making government work better for you. With that you can be able to improve your own life,” Eyakuze said.

So far, 23 out the 36 states have signed on to the OGP, with Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) being the only local government on the initiative.

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