Russian-Ukraine War Creating Hardship in Nigeria, Says FG

Emmanuel Addeh

The federal government has said that the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine was partly responsible for the hardship in the country.

Speaking when he received the global Open Government Partnership (OGP) Award, recently won by Nigeria for onward transmission to President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba, noted that the current inflation in the country was a global phenomenon.

The award was presented to the minister by the Executive Secretary, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Dr Ogbonnaya Orji in Abuja as part of the activities to commemorate the OGP week in Nigeria.

The award was won during the last Global Summit of OGP member countries held in Seoul, South Korea.

Insisting that the Buhari administration has not failed , Agba maintained that there were various projects in the country to show , including, according to him, the Second Niger Bridge which is nearing completion, the development of rail infrastructure, the  Oweto Bridge, among others.

He stated that the countries on the leadership level, like Nigeria at OGP was because of their commitment to fighting corruption, saying that while revenue was dipping, the country’s commitments were increasing.

“Our revenues are lower now than they used to be. Covid-19 has created its own problems and with the ongoing Russian-Ukraine war , it has become even worse.

“A lot of countries are going through hardship. Prices of food items across the world have gone up and countries are going through a lot of inflation like the United States which is like the highest in 40 years and in the UK in 30 years.

“For us, the inflation started falling for eight consecutive months only to go up in December and in January and with the Russian Ukraine war, it has created some more hardship in terms of food supply and all of that.

“And of course there is the general reaction of prices. But while other countries are still in recession we have since left, our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is positive and going higher and this has to be applauded,” Agba said.

In addition, the minister stated that the federal government was working on the beneficial ownership register that would see an end to secret ownership of companies in Nigeria.

“The award on beneficial ownership commitment, for me, is not a surprise because of the commitment to both vision and realistic approach to Nigeria’s fight against corruption,” he explained.

The minister, who is also the National Co-Chair of Public Sector OGP, however, regretted that Nigerians only saw what was not being done in the country and preferred to dwell on them.

Agba encouraged stakeholders to redouble their efforts towards delivering on the presidential declaration on OGP and to expect more awards in the course of implementing it.

“The OGP process under my watch will continue to deepen good governance using instrumentality of the OGP,” the minister said.

While giving insight into the significance of the award, Orji said that Nigeria beat other countries in Africa and the Middle East that were implementing the OGP and emerged tops for the honour.

This, he said was followed by the independent review of reforms embarked upon among implementing countries, adding that the review tracked and assessed milestones achieved by the Nigerian government in setting up a beneficial ownership registry to end anonymous companies in the country.

“Nigeria is implementing both the EITI and OGP – two global multi-stakeholders governance initiatives that share core similarities and commitments to deliver on transparency and open governance in members’ countries.

“While NEITI implements the EITI, the Nigerian OGP Secretariat implements the OGP. There exists a longstanding and strong working relationship between the two initiatives,” he said.

According to him, the EITI is a multi-stakeholder initiative that brings together government, civil society and companies to address problems in the oil, gas and mining sectors.

Orji noted that the commitment to fiscal transparency, beneficial ownership and contract disclosures were core obligations for Nigeria as a signatory and member of the global EITI and OGP community.

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