Nigeria made giant strides since joining OGP six years ago – Agba  

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Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba said on Monday that Nigeria had made remarkable achievements since joining the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in 2016.

According to him, the country had developed and implemented two National Action Plans organized around critical thematic areas like fiscal transparency, access to information, anti-corruption, citizen engagement, service delivery, inclusion and extractive transparency

The Minister made these remarks during the end-of-year media parley for journalists covering the Ministry in Abuja..

The OGP is a global partnership for reformers from both government and civil society who work together to make the governance process open, accountable and citizen-driven.

The Minister explained that at the core of the OGP was a commitment from participating countries to undertake meaningful new steps as part of concrete actions to deepen good governance and service delivery while empowering citizens.

He said Nigeria joined the OGP in 2016 as the 70th member as part of efforts to fight corruption and improve governance in the country.

The Minister said, “Since joining in 2016, the country has developed and implemented two National action plans organized around critical thematic areas like fiscal transparency, access to information, anti-corruption, citizen engagement, service delivery, inclusion and extractive transparency. The second NAP is almost rounding off and there are some modest achievements and success stories to show for it”.

Agba pointed out that other benefits the country had derived from being a member of the OGP included improved budgetary processes, improved procurement processes, boost in anti-corruption fight through the Introduction of Transparency in Company Ownership (Establishment of Beneficial Ownership Register.

According to him, the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning was able to, with the 2020 federal budget, return the country to January to December budgetary cycle adding that, “We achieved the same feat in 2021 and 2022. 2023 Federal Budget will not be different.

“We hope that successive administrations will ensure that this continues. This, certainly, is not a mere annual ritual. It has assisted in early commencement of implementation of the Annual Budgets. It has also assisted the Private Sector and State Governments to Plan their Budgets to align with the Federal Government Budget. It has also led to full implementation of the Budgets especially the Capital Component.

“Significantly, it has also removed uncertainties associated with delayed budgets, which include delayed investment, thus making the implementation of government programmes and projects predictable. In fact, the early submission of the Federal Government’s annual budget enables the states to use the budget assumptions to prepare their annual budgets. Efforts are made to ensure prompt distribution of the federally collected revenues to the Federating units to enable them to implement their budgets.”

Agba added that the country’s budgetary processes were much more transparent and participatory; as all stakeholders, especially the citizens, are carried along and enabled to make input into the process.

“Nigeria recorded its best performance in the Open Budget Survey (OBS), scoring 45% in the latest 2021 survey for transparency, indicating an improvement by 24 points, a significant leap from the 21% achieved in the previous year.

“The procurement thematic area, we have established the Nigerian Procurement Portal (NOCOPO), where citizens can monitor all government procurement processes in a transparent manner, thereby making the procurement processes a lot more open, participatory, and transparent.

“Boost in Anti-Corruption Fight through the Introduction of Transparency in Company Ownership (Establishment of Beneficial Ownership Register): Nigeria has also attained giant strides in curbing illicit financial flows, terrorism financing and corruption through the beneficial ownership process.

“The Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2019 and Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), 2021 have provided the legal backings for the full implementation of beneficial ownership regulatory framework in Nigeria, whose provisions give effect to national beneficial ownership portal in general and strengthen the application of beneficial ownership regulations in the Oil and Gas Sector.

“Consequently, our Beneficial Ownership portal, being developed by the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, is our flagship instrument to curtail illicit financial flows and terrorism funding while eliminating official corruption.”

The Minister disclosed that at the last OGP Global Summit in Seoul, South Korea, from December 15-17, 2021, Nigeria won the OGP Impact Award “for our commitment to Beneficial Ownership. This Global Award is in recognition of our resolve to press forward with OGP reforms”.

He also disclosed that 24 states out of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Nigeria have so far accepted the OGP and were making concrete commitments to develop the culture of transparency and accountability in the governance processes while empowering citizens to participate effectively in governance processes.

According to him, the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) has also keyed into the OGP, making it the first local government to do so, stresding that the OGP is gradually transforming the governance ecosystem in Nigeria.

“The third National Action Plan (NAP III) being developed is expected to take forward these gains earlier outlined and introduce new steps and efforts to sustain them. Indeed, Corruption is still a big issue in the country; it is therefore pertinent that successive governments in Nigeria would sustain the OGP and even show more political support and commitment to the process,” Agba added.

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