Nigeria’s participation in the Open Government Partnership (OGP) process has added value to governance in several areas through enhanced coordination of government reform efforts, communication among government agencies, better responsiveness and improvement of trust between government and citizens.
The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN who is also the Co-Chair Open Government Partnership (OGP) National Steering Committee made the statement in his goodwill message at the Kaduna State Open Government State Action Planning Workshop held on Tuesday 26th September, 2017 in Kaduna.
Giving highlights, the AGF said since Nigeria joined the OGP in July,2016, the Federal Government under the indefatigable leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari had implemented several activities as contained in the OGP National Action Plan
Malami who was elated at the Kaduna State Government’s decision to join OGP, said the state had already exhibited commitment to open government and good governance by establishing the ‘eyes and ears’ project through which the government enabled citizens to monitor government projects across the state.
He explained that the equal partnership between civil society and government in OGP process entails that every commitment in the State Action Plan are co-created, co-implemented and co-monitored for the benefit of citizens.
He advised, “ Every step you take should as much as possible be subjected to input from the citizens as well as other non-state actors like the professional associations, labor unions women and youth groups, faith based organizations and other relevant stakeholders”.
He gave assurance of OGP National Secretariat support to provide the needed technical support to make Kaduna State Government succeed in its endeavour.
Malami congratulated Kaduna State and encouraged other state governments to emulate Kaduna State example by engaging with citizens in order to deliver on the objectives of good governance because state governments are closer to the people.
He explained that if the principles of openness, transparency and inclusiveness are replicated at the state level, it would have greater impact on the lives of ordinary people.
He disclosed that Anambra and Kano states had sent their letters of intent to join the OGP while looking forward to working with the states to achieve the common objectives.
In his keynote address, the Executive Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai who expressed happiness, announced that his government has indicated the interest to fully join the Open Government Partnership (OGP). According to him, “This partnership will further entrench the commitment of Kaduna State Government in area of fiscal responsibility, access to information and citizens’ engagement”.
He said the decision was based on the need to correct the anomalies in governance and ensure that the people who are the ultimate key stakeholders in determining how their resources should be utilized.
In her remarks, the Honourable Minister of State for Budget and National Planning Hajia Zainab ably represented said that the federal government had already embarked on several reforms to enhance fiscal transparency across all sectors of its economy which would equally help states in having success implementing their commitments. This includes the restructuring of anti-corruption agencies for optimal performance, introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) among others.
She said that one of the key OGP principles is collaboration between Government and Civil Society. It is expected that there would be equal representation of Civil Society Organisation and State Actors on both the Steering Committee working groups. Therefore, the OGP can help to ensure that both civil society experts and state actors have access to significant discussions around open government reforms and are able to implement such reforms.
She further said that the workshop is a conscious preparation that the government has put in place to ensure transparency and accountability plan is carried out by all means necessary and the outcome benefits every stakeholder.
In her presentation of the OGP National Action Plan, the Special Adviser to the President on Justice Sector Reforms, Barrister Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu said that the basic objective of the workshop was to assist the Kaduna State government to inaugurate OGP Steering Committee Validation Meeting to facilitate the development of a two-year State Action Plan following the declaration of the State to join the OGP in June 2017. She highlighted the Commitment areas subscribed to by Kaduna State in Fiscal Transparency, Tax and revenue Transparency, Ease of Doing business, Open Procurement/ Open Contracting and Access to Information.
In his welcome address, the Kaduna state Commissioner for Budget and Planning of Kaduna State and the Co-Chair designate of the State OGP, Mr. Muhammad Sani welcomed all stakeholders from the Government, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and development partners. He explained that Kaduna State subscribed to OGP in order to improve on transparency, accountability and citizen’s participation and also improve the State’s ability to attract more foreign investment and enhance access to additional development funds.
He therefore urge participants to design a good and workable Plan that would further consolidate on the efforts and gains of the administration of Mal. Nasir Ahmed El-Rufaí towards the achievement of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) commitments.
Contributing, Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director, Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and Co-Chair of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Nigeria said, “It was 11 months ago, in this same city, that we formally embarked on a similar journey at the Federal level when we met here in October 2016 at a three-day National Retreat to begin the process of co-creating the National Action Plan, the most important instrument in the OGP”.
He described the National Action Plan as the most important instrument in the OGP because it forms the core of a country’s participation in the OGP process. It is the product of a co-creation process in which government and civil society define ambitious commitments to foster Transparency, Accountability, and Public participation in governance.
He said that Kaduna State holds the key to the success of the OGP at the State level in Nigeria as the success of the OGP at this level of governance would be significantly influenced by the fortunes of the OGP in Kaduna State, given its pioneering role.
It would be recalled the Federal government signed to join the OGP in July, 2016. Within Nigeria’s Open Government Partnership National Plan, fourteen(14) different commitment areas were co-created with the Civil Society Organizations along four thematic areas, which include; Fiscal Transparency, Anti-corruption, Access to Information and Citizen Engagement
Asst. Director/ Press