Transparent Contract, Cost Reduction Hallmark of Open Government Partnership

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Nigeria’s contract system will be transparent, competitive and efficient enough to reduce cost and add quality to service delivery with Open Government Partnership. This is one of the specific areas of focus in the fight against corruption. This was highlighted at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Week, organised by the office of the Special Adviser to the President on Open Government Partnership in collaboration with the Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL).Bennett Oghifo reports

There are specific areas that attention is being focused, which are at the fulcrum of the fight against corruption. One of them is open contracting with an active procurement working group, comprising government civil society and private sector that meets frequently on the implementation of open contracting data standards.

The Bureau of Public Procurement began pilot implementation of the Nigeria Open Contracting Portal (NOCOPO) with eight pilot MDAs. Also, there is a toll-free number (08002833744), developed by Public and Private Development Centre, for citizen to call, ask questions and report on contract implementation within their communities.

Thirty three CSOs and MDAs that participated in user-need workshop for the upgrade of NOCOPO, and there is an ongoing constitution of the National Procurement Council by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. Seven hundred heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the federal government trained on open contracting and functions of NOCOPO.

Another critical aspect, also under Fiscal Transparency, is on open budgeting process that will be accessible to all citizens to ask questions. This will enhance citizens engagement and participation in the budget.

For instance, 171 civil society and media organisations were said to have participated in roundtable discussion on the 2018 budget hosted by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning and Budget Office of the Federation.

“The Budget Office published the pre-budget statement (2018-2020 MTEF/FSP), Citizen’s Guide to the 2018 Executive Budget Proposal, 2017 Quarterly and in-year budget reports and the 2018 Executive Budget Proposal in a timely manner.”

Also, under Fiscal Transparency in Extractive Transparency, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) published a Procedure Guide for the Determination of the Quantity and Quality of Petroleum and Petroleum Products in Nigeria. The Department also reviewed the procedure guide on custody meters.

Other activities are; a drafted bill to repeal and re-enact the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA); Country Report on the Assessment of Nigeria’s Beneficial Ownership Transparency was published by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC). Also published is the 2015 Oil and Gas Audit Report by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).

On Ease of Doing Business, the government reported that “Nigeria moved up 24 points in the World Bank index as a result of actions taken by Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) to improve the ease of doing business environment in Nigeria between 2016 and 2017.”

On Land Titles Procedure, there is the introduction of e-planning portal to reduce the number of procedures in obtaining land titles in Lagos and Kano. The states have also removed the infrastructure development charge for building warehouses.

The amount required to register a business with CAC is now N23,500.

There are other components such as; anti-corruption, which includes asset recovery and management; Access to information, with 106 Ministries, Departments and Agencies having designated FOI Desks Officers; Four MDAs have online FOI platforms.

“A memo on punitive administrative measures against public institutions and officials adjudged to be undermining the effectiveness of the Act or breaching its provisions was sent to the Federal Executive Council for consideration.”

The fourth component is Citizens Engagement.

The five-day Open Government Partnership Week was declared open by President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

The Government of Nigeria, under President Muhammadu Buhari, has been focused on combating corruption and achieving an open and transparent government. At the London Summit on Anti-Corruption, the Government committed to strengthening anti-corruption measures through implementing programmes aimed at: exposing corruption; punishing the corrupt and providing support to the victims of corruption and driving out the culture of corruption. To deepen institutional and policy reforms, Nigeria joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in July 2016 as the 70th member country.

The Open Government Partnership is an international multi-stakeholder initiative focused on improving transparency, accountability, citizen participation and responsiveness to citizens through technology and innovation.

The International Open Government Partnership recently held the Open Government Week which was devoted to all things ‘’#OpenGov’’ around the world. Nigeria joined the global community in the celebration of the Open Government Week. The week, which was also graced by senior government officials, had in attendance civil society organisations (CSOs), and the media.

Addressing the audience on ‘the Impact of Open Government Partnership to Nigeria’s anti-corruption efforts’, Vice President Osinbajo recalled that “Our government came into office on the back of a three-pronged agenda: Ensuring Security, Rebuilding the Economy, and vigorously prosecuting the fight against Corruption.
“This last issue, Corruption, has been an existential issue for Nigeria, threatening the very fundament of our existence. It has ensured that, for too long, the resources meant for the majority have been sadly cornered by a greedy minority.
“This issue of corruption underlines every aspect of our national life, from our security situation to the state of our economy. It was the reason why, in spite of record oil revenues between 2011 and 2013/14, we saw no savings, and very little investment in infrastructure and jobs, and, in spite of the billions of dollars reportedly invested in security, the Boko Haram insurgency did not abate.
“Our government has adopted a two-step approach to dealing with this scourge of systemic corruption.
The first is to stop grand corruption and the accompanying impunity.
“The second step and the more enduring one is what this week is about, creating a self- sustaining system that assures transparency and accountability.
“We have, since we assumed office three years ago, made remarkable progress in pushing the frontiers of transparency and accountability in the Federal Government. One of the first things that the President did when we took office was to establish the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), to coordinate our reforms in this regard.”
According to the vice president, “We inherited a Treasury Single Account (TSA) system that existed mainly as an idea, without the appetite for serious implementation. Since the Presidential Order by President Buhari in August 2015, we have made remarkable progress in expanding the reach of the TSA, so that today, we are almost at 100 per cent compliance.”