By ISMAILA CHAFE
ABUJA- President Muhammadu Buhari has itemised the benefits Nigeria had derived from joining the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Support Unit since 2016.
The president listed the benefits when he received a delegation from the OGP Support Unit, led by the Chief Executive Officer, Dr Sanjay Pradhan, on Thursday in Abuja.
He said when he committed Nigeria to the membership of the Open Government Partnership at the London Anti-Corruption Summit, he was very clear about the role that the initiative would play in the fight against corruption.
According to him, since that time, “we have developed and implemented two National Action Plans on the Open Government Partnership.
“By next month (in August), I will sign the third Action Plan, which is in the final stages of development.
“I am eager to sign the document so that we can continue to sustain the progress of reforms that we have recorded in the past six years of implementation.”
The president also outlined some of the successes that the country had recorded since it began to implement the Open Government Partnership in 2016.
“Our budgeting processes have become more open, citizens-centred and participatory.
“In accordance with the objective of fiscal transparency, all stakeholders, including the public are involved in the country’s budget making process, have access to the details of our budgets, and have opportunity to make inputs into it.
“As a proof of our progress, Nigeria was ranked among the best improved countries for transparency in the latest global Open Budget Survey.
“We have made significant progress in the beneficial ownership transparency in Nigeria.
“We produced a roadmap of Beneficial Ownership Reporting in 2016. By December 2019, we established Africa’s first Beneficial Ownership Register in the extractive industry. In 2020, we amended our laws to expand Beneficial Ownership Reporting to all sectors of the economy.
“We are currently building a robust national Beneficial Ownership Database, which will be deployed to combat global criminal activities including illicit financial flows and terrorism financing.
“We are equally convinced the Beneficial Ownership disclosure policy will support our domestic resource mobilization.”
The president noted with delight that the Nigerian Government was encouraged at the last OGP Global Summit in Seoul, South Korea, as the country won the OGP Impact Award for commitment and progress on Beneficial Ownership Transparency.
“As part of our commitment to sustain the progress, I have just approved Nigeria’s membership of the Beneficial Ownership Leadership Group,” he said.
On extractive industry transparency, he said Nigeria as a leading member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, was appointed recently to chair the global network of 20 countries implementing contract transparency.
“Also, as part of a broader commitment to extractive industry transparency, we passed the Petroleum Industry Act which introduced sweeping reforms to enhance transparent and accountable governance of the oil and gas industry.
“In public procurement, we have established the Nigerian Procurement Portal, where citizens can monitor all government procurement processes in a transparent manner. We are currently improving this system to achieve greater effectiveness,” he added.
He observed that one of the reasons the country had made this much progress was because “we have backed our verbal commitments with deliberate action, by including OGP implementation in the national budget to ensure sustainability of the partnership in Nigeria.
“With these steps we have taken, our administration will bequeath to the next government a culture of transparency, accountability and citizens’ participation in governance.
“We have worked hard to institutionalise the OGP by mainstreaming open government practices across our governance systems.”
He commended the national OGP team led by Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, who is the Government Co-Chair, and the Civil Society Co-Chair Dr. Tayo Adeloju, for their relentless efforts in advancing transparency and accountability in governance processes.
Earlier, Pradhan recalled that he was there in London in 2016, when President Buhari committed to the 77-member organization as Number 70.
He described Nigeria as “an excellent performer, one of the most open across the partnership”.
Pradhan also lauded the country for opening up its budget processes, contracts, procurement, and the extractive sector.
He advocated more reforms in disclosure of audit, establishing an e-procurement platform, and institutionalisation of OGP, among others.
Pradhan described Nigeria as a country “with open hearts, open arms of friendship and partnership’’. (NAN)