CSO Advisory Committee Hails Initiatives against Corruption in Nigeria

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Abimbola Akosile

The Civil Society (CSO) Advisory Committee for the European Union (EU) funded Project, ‘Support to Anti-Corruption in Nigeria’ has commended various anti-corruption efforts undertaken over the last one year, and observed that significant progress was made while successes were recorded on several fronts in the war against corruption during the year.

In a statement signed by the Chairman, CSO Advisory Committee, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraj, which was issued in Abuja at the end of their final meeting for 2016 where they took stock of activities and initiatives undertaken under the project as well as by other actors, the group of civil society organisations (CSOs) expressed satisfaction with the pace of implementation of the project and achievements recorded so far.

Assessing the progress in the implementation of the project, the Committee noted that 150 civil society representatives were trained and prepared for participation in the project’s grants process while a number of those trained prepared result-oriented proposals and were ultimately selected for the award of grants.

According to the details provided at the meeting, 10 grantees were selected by the Grant Award Committee from among CSOs that responded to the call for proposals under the project and were awarded grants to conduct anti-corruption activities in various parts of the country and across different sectors and stakeholder groups, while the successful grantee organisations are being supported to implement the anti-corruption activities highlighted in their grants applications.

The project also facilitated engagements between participating CSOs and the Presidential Advisory Committee (PACAC), as a result of which the CSO Technical Group was able to continue aligning its activities with the objectives of the PACAC.
The project supported the training of representatives of CSOs as public procurement monitors to enable them perform their role of monitoring procurement process as stated in the Public Procurement Act, 2007.
The training led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and the CSOs as well as an agreement on Terms of Reference to define their respective roles. The CSOs have also expressed their readiness and commitment to work in cooperation and partnership with the BPP.

It (project) supported engagements between the participating CSOs and relevant committees of the National Assembly to promote the critical role of the Legislature in combating financial crimes; to afford the Committee members the opportunity to acquire in-depth knowledge of relevant Bills for combating corruption and financial crimes which are currently pending at the National Assembly; and to engender synergy between the Legislature and the CSOs.

The engagements resulted in a call to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to withdraw the proposed Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2016 and substitute it with a Bill to amend the existing legal regime on money laundering.

Members of the National Assembly in attendance during the engagements, also committed to ensuring the passage of the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill, 2016 before the end of year 2016.

Other outcomes of the stock-taking exercise include the fact that the project is conducting a mapping exercise to identify CSOs with Anti-Corruption mandates throughout the country and to document their strengths and weaknesses; as well as the fact that the project has produced and distributed about 2,000 Anti-Corruption outreach materials which have contributed to the visibility for the Anti-Corruption crusade and the project.

It was noted that four meetings of the CSO Advisory Committee were held during the year, 2016, and that the meetings continue to contribute to the alignment of the activities articulated under Outcome 3 and the overall strategic objectives of the project.

The Committee welcomed the development of a National Action Plan (NAP) for Nigeria within the framework of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) with strong Anti-Corruption commitments and components. It also pledged to support the OGP initiative and to work with government agencies and civil society partners to ensure the realisation of the commitments.