Centre tasks govs-elect on Open Government Partnership

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By Angela Atabo/Fortune Abang

Abuja – The Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD), an NGO, on Saturday urged the newly elected governors across the country to adopt the Open Government Partnership (OGP) initiative.

Mr Uchenna Arisukwu, Programme Coordinator of the Centre, made the call in an address to mark the global celebration of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Week on Saturday, in Abuja.

Arisukwu said the call had become imperative because since Nigeria joined the OGP process as its 70th member globally, and 12th in Africa, not much had been done to ensure effective implementation.

He said the OGP initiative was launched in 2011 to provide platform for governments to be accountable and responsive to citizens and assist in achieving the desired governance goals.

The coordinator, however, said that so far only 10 states namely, Kaduna, Kano, Anambra, Ebonyi, Abia, Enugu, Niger, Edo, Adamawa and Jigawa, out of 36, had signed up and domesticated OGP in the country.

“Since the country signed into the OGP in 2016, Nigeria has recorded appreciable successes in open budget, open procurement, assets recovery, access to information, citizens’ engagement and open technology.

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“The national budget is now accessible online through the citizens’ budget portal, where citizens can engage the budget and also get involved in the entire budgetary cycle.

“The procurement portal established by the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) provides citizens the access to engage the procurement process, making it open and transparent.

“In spite of these modest achievements and others not listed here, much is left to be achieved with OGP in Nigeria as we begin the second term of the partnership implementation in Nigeria,’’ he said.

Arisukwu said that the two years of OGP’s National Action Plan, which contained 14 commitments, with four areas of concentration; namely, fiscal transparency, access to information, anti-corruption and citizens’ engagement and empowerment, would be achieved by December.

He urged governments to demonstrate political will to the process, ensure access to information and use of technology to minimise discretion and deepen citizen’s engagement in anti-graft war in order to achieve set targets.

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Also speaking, Mr Monday Osasah, Acting-Executive Director of the Centre, urged governments and stakeholders of the OGP to also exercise the political will to fast-track the project implementation in the second phase.

He said that it was imperative for government to make deliberate policy to include OGP in its Federal Executive Council discussion to encourage MDAs to implement the policy objectives.

“Government talking from their end to citizens also will help. Look at what OGP represents, it approximates good governance which happens when government policies and programmes meet the expectations of citizens.

“To achieve that, government requires citizens’ partnership, openness and transparency, it also makes it important for citizens to be part of the documentation of the second National Action Plan,” Osasah said.

He urged states yet to sign up to OGP to do so in order to bring about a holistic fight against corruption in Nigeria.

Ms Ayomide Faleye, National Coordinator, Open Alliance, an NGO, In her remarks at the event, called on stakeholders of OGP to ensure that the second phase of the plan reflected issues that affected citizens.

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According to Faleye, the most important step is to ensure that citizens’ engagement is being captured to reflect inclusiveness as the 2019 theme for celebration of the week globally implies.

“Everything we are doing is to ensure efficient service delivery so that government is trustworthy; and the citizens also get what they ought to get.”

She, however, observed that there was low level of awareness about OGP, and so urged the media partners to disseminate relevant information about the issue to achieve meaningful growth.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event was organised by LSD, with support from Macarthur Foundation, an NGO, which seeks to promote transparency in governance process.

NAN also reports that the OGP is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from national and sub-national governments to promote open government.

It also aims to empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. (NAN)

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