By Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Open Government Partnership, a global coalition in the fight against corruption has admitted Nigeria as member.
This was disclosed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN at a meeting of stakeholders on the Implementation of the Outcome of the London Summit on Anti-Corruption and the Open Government Partnership held on Thursday, July 28, 2016 in Abuja.
A statement issued by Mr. Salihu Isah, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the justice minister said following the admission of Nigeria as a member of the OGP, President Muhammadu Buhari had been invited to speak at the 5th anniversary event of the OGP at the United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2016.
Nigeria had in a letter dated 20th June, 2016, to the OGP steering committee titled, ‘Letter of Intention to Join the Open Government Partnership’ signed by Malami, applied to join the partnership.
OGP was launched in 2011 and has 69 countries as members out of which eight are from the Africa continent namely, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Tunisia.
Nigeria has now become the ninth African nation to join the coalition with the intention that it would aid the anti-graft war.
Speaking on the admission of Nigeria as a member of OGP, Malami said: “This is an exciting moment for Nigeria as we seek to put back our country on the spotlight by engaging with the public and the society on transparent, accountable and participatory governance.”
He observed that, “The foregoing establishes the fact that Nigeria has always appreciated the importance of Open Government as a means of ensuring transparency and accountability in the conduct of government business.
“It is the current administration’s position that commitment to the promotion of Open Government in Nigeria would resonate strongly with the message of change that the new administration represent.”
Malami told the gathering that the Federal Government of Nigeria’s effort to curb corruption received a boost as it received confirmation as the latest participating member nation of the Open Government Partnership (OGP).
He said that the letter confirming Nigeria’s membership had finally been received through the OGP Secretariat and signed by its Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Sanjay Pradhan indicating that all the OGP Steering Committee members have confirmed Nigeria as a participating member country.
‘’The OGP Secretariat has also extended its support to the government of Nigeria and has invited His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari to speak at the 5th Anniversary event at the United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2016’’, he emphasised.
He therefore expressed satisfaction at efforts made by the Nigerian government to develop sustainable anti-corruption policies, stressing that since assuming office, every effort had been made to build on and expand on what was initiated by the previous governments.
Malami further pointed out that one of the key priorities was the need to recover stolen funds and pay back to the Nigerian society what they have lost to corruption.
The Stakeholders’ Forum is aimed at bringing together the public and private sector as well as civil society organisations to work with the Federal Ministry of Justice (FMOJ) in ensuring that the president’s commitments are turned into actionable plans.
‘’OGP also provides a policy making platform that brings together government and more effective and credible through greater openness. The importance of full disclosure, transparency and accountability in the conduct of government business cannot be over-emphasised in Nigeria. For example, the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 (FOICT) was enacted to achieve openness in the conduct of government business.’’
In his remarks, the Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi gave assurance of his support and commitment to Open Government Partnership. He added that he was open to its effective implementation, a reason he personally graced the occasion.
Also speaking, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed emphasised that the present administration was committed to the implementation of the approved monitoring and evaluation framework of the budget preparation and working towards making sure the budget is open.
She also hoped the Anti-Money Laundering Bill before the National Assembly will be passed, pledging her support to any initiative of the government towards this effort.
In his remark on behalf of development partners, the Deputy High Commissioner, British High Commission, Mr. Simon Shercliff, said the British Prime Minister was delighted with Buhari’s valuable contributions during the London Anti- Corruption Summit.
Shercliff observed that corruption was a cancer in many countries of the world; therefore advising that, there was need for the government to work together towards 2030 agenda to reduce bribery and corruption.