From Isaac Anumihe, Abuja

The Minister of State for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, yesterday, said that Nigeria has made impressive progress since joining the Open Government Partnership (OGP) initiative in 2016.

Briefing newsmen in Abuja, Agba disclosed that at the sub-national level of OGP, 23 out 36 states of the federation, including Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) have joined the OGP Initiative.

The minister’s briefing is sequel to the visit of the Chief Executive Officer and members of the OGP to the country from Monday July 25 to Friday July 29, 2022.

“These results are largely due to the combined efforts of civil society organisations and the OGP National Secretariat, to cascade the gospel of OGP to all nooks and crannies of the country. It is my hope that all 36 states will become part of the OGP in the near future.

“Since joining the OGP initiative in 2016, Nigeria has continued to champion ambitious reforms that reflect government’s cardinal focus of eradicating corruption and entrenching transparency and accountability across the public sector.

“Government and non-state actors have co-created two National Action Plans (NAPs) in that period. The implementation timeline for the second NAP is almost coming to an end and the development of a third NAP is in top gear” Agba said, stating that as part of government’s 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 accent”

On the achievements of OGP initiative, the Minister said the country has made giant strides in the global beneficial ownership transparency space adding that in the last two years, President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law, the Companies 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.

According to him, National Integrated Beneficial Ownership Portal being developed by Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), will expand on the work done by Nigeria Extractive Industry and Transparency Initiative ( NEITI) in the extractive sector, adding that having recently secured the president’s 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.

“Our budget process has become more open than ever before. Our recent ranking in the 2021 Open Budget Survey with an upward movement of 24 points and second highest improvement worldwide clearly attests to this. The survey conducted in 120 countries showed that Nigeria has improved the timelines in publishing budget documents; improved inclusions in the budget processes; enhanced comprehensive documentation made available to the public; and better institutional oversight roles in the budget process.

“While this is highly commendable, we acknowledge that the oversight functions of the supreme audit institutions can still be improved.

“The World Bank Funded State Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme for Results Project has contributed greatly to improving fiscal transparency at sub-national level. Not only have 22 out of our 36 states published their budgets online, citizens are better equipped to engage government officials on fiscal issues.

“The Open Treasury Portal launched in December 2019 and relaunched in April 2022 is an accountability platform, which enables timely availability of financial information of all Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the federal government to citizens. Efforts are ongoing to ensure full implementation of this presidential directive and compliance from MDAs.

“Use of technology and innovation – As a core principle of the OGP, state and non-stake actors continue to leverage on technology platforms, to improve citizens participation in the governance process.

“Apart from having the budget and public procurement information published online, we have recently launched Eyemark – an application that uses geo-spatial technology to track physical projects across the country. It is our hope that all citizens contribute to effectively monitor and track government projects in their vicinity. Eyemark although in Beta testing phase can be assessed at https://eyemark.ng/.

“Public information is now more easily available and accessible. The implementation of the Freedom of Information Act 2011 (FOIA) has been strengthened through improvements in compliance of mandatory proactive disclosures, response rates to requests and significant trainings of designated desk officers.

” Hopefully, the next NAP will consider issues around amending the law to introduce sanctions for non-compliance with right to information laws. SERVICOM, the Service Compact for all Nigerians as part of efforts to entrench a culture of high-quality public service delivery, galvanise citizens to request for quality services and support government agencies to provide quality services has developed a National Policy on Improved Service Delivery, in co-creation with their traditional stakeholders and non-state actors. The policy document can be accessed on SERVICOM’s website’, he added.

Agba also disclosed that the implementation of all 16 commitments in the NAP II have witnessed substantial progress and that our multi-stakeholder working groups made up of government MDAs, organised private sector, media, civil society organisations and professional bodies have all remained actively engaged in undertaking the process.

He stated that Nigeria, as the only African country on the OGP Global Steering Committee, “will remain open to continue to uphold the ideals of open government through regular sharing of experiences and cross fertilisation of ideas with other countries in Africa”

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