Integrating civil society in capacity building important for the success of Open Government Partnership -Malami

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The Honorable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami SAN, has said that the efforts to bring Civil Societies together, to build capacity are of central importance to the success of Open Government Partnership (OGP), we can achieve very little unless we had the right kind of skills and people.

The Minister said this in a goodwill message he delivered at the OGP Support Unit meeting with Ministries, Departments and Agencies Focal Persons by a team of visiting Open Government Partnership (OGP) International Secretariat to Nigeria,  today, Wednesday 11th October, 2017.

The HAGF, who was ably represented by the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata, ESQ, hinted that the implementation of OGP National Action Plan (NAP) had taken off.

“As you may be aware, the implementation of OGP NAP has commenced in earnest. We have already started recording progress and success stories in several areas including open contracting, led by the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP), Open Budgeting, led by Ministry of Budget and National Planning (MBNP), Beneficial Ownership transparency, led by Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and of course, the Improvement of the Ease of Doing Business, led by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment council (PEBEC)”, he explained.

He further added, “We are not there yet as there is still a lot of work to do, but we are on course”.

More so, Malami informed that state governments had started signing into OGP process. “Let me also inform you those four states: Kaduna, Anambra, Kano and Enugu have formally decided to join the OGP. I am particularly delighted about the participation of the states because they are the tier of government that is closer to the people. It is our view that increased openness at the state level will impact more directly on the benefits that citizens will derive from good governance”.

The African Government Support & Exchange Officer, Theophilous Chiviru in his remarks, applauded the President Muhammadu Buhari for taking the bold step of signing into OGP process in July last year in London. He also said that Nigeria had recorded immense progress as efforts are been made to mainstream OGP.

Mr. Chiviru harps on the need to build coalitions with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) as ways of guaranteeing citizen participation in the conduct of government business. Appreciative of the fact that Nigeria is seriously working in the spirit of OGP; hope that in no distant time it would achieve openness in the government contracting / procurement process like Ukraine, Tanzania etc.

He emphasized that one of the newest country to sign into OGP, Burkina Faso had institutionalized OGP and urged Nigeria to follow suit adding that citizen alienation, governance and democracy and shrinking civil space could be clog in the wheel of achieving OGP.

Earlier, the Special Assistant to the President on Justice Sector reforms in the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu made a presentation on progress made so far, challenges and opportunities on OGP Secretariat’s coordination with MDAS. She explained that Civil Society Organizations made up the heart of OGP National Steering Committee with 42 memberships; 21 from Government Agencies and 21 from the CSOs.

 According to her, the Steering Committee is the policy making body while the Secretariat provides technical support. Ibekaku-Nwagwu frowned at the inconsistency of Focal Persons that attend meetings urging the MDAs and CSOs to designate Officers to attend meetings for easy flow of discussions and adequate participation.

Director International and Comparative Law, Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Stella Anukam in her closing remarks assured the visiting Theophilous Chiviru that OGP would be institutionalized in Nigeria soon as the process had started in earnest by way of legislation.

Natty Aguocha

For: Assistant Director

Federal Ministry of Justice