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My regime has institutionalised transparency, accountability, inclusion says Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration has instilled the culture of transparency, accountability and people participation in governance which will be handed down to the next government.

Mr  Buhari said this while itemising the benefits Nigeria derived from joining the Open Government Partnership Support Unit in 2016 while he received a delegation led by the OGP chief executive officer, Sanjay Pradhan, on Thursday in Abuja.

“With these steps we have taken, our administration will bequeath to the next government culture of transparency, accountability and citizens’ participation in governance,” Mr Buhari said.

“We have worked hard to institutionalise the OGP by mainstreaming open government practices across our governance systems,” he said.

He said when he committed Nigeria to the membership of the Open Government Partnership at the London Anti-Corruption Summit, he was very clear about the role that the initiative would play in the fight against corruption.

The president said since that time, “we have developed and implemented two National Action Plans on the Open Government Partnership.

“By next month (in August), I will sign the third Action Plan, which is in the final stages of development.

“I am eager to sign the document so that we can continue to sustain the progress of reforms that we have recorded in the past six years of implementation.”

The president also outlined some of the country’s successes since implementing the Open Government Partnership in 2016.

According to Mr Buhari, Nigeria’s budgeting process is more open, with the participation of all stakeholders, including the public.

He said the proof of the country in the past six years was evident in its ranking as the best-improved country for transparency in the global Open Budget Survey.

“We produced a roadmap of Beneficial Ownership Reporting in 2016. By December 2019, we established Africa’s first Beneficial Ownership Register in the extractive industry. In 2020, we amended our laws to expand Beneficial Ownership Reporting to all sectors of the economy.

“We are currently building a robust national Beneficial Ownership Database, which will be deployed to combat global criminal activities, including illicit financial flows and terrorism financing.

“We are equally convinced the Beneficial Ownership disclosure policy will support our domestic resource mobilisation.”

The president noted that the Nigerian government was encouraged at the last OGP Global Summit in Seoul, South Korea, as the country won the OGP Impact Award for commitment and progress on Beneficial Ownership Transparency.

“As part of our commitment to sustain the progress, I have just approved Nigeria’s membership of the Beneficial Ownership Leadership Group,” he said.

On extractive industry transparency, he said Nigeria was appointed recently to chair the global network of 20 countries implementing contract transparency.

“Also, as part of a broader commitment to extractive industry transparency, we passed the Petroleum Industry Act, which introduced sweeping reforms to enhance transparent and accountable governance of the oil and gas industry.

“In public procurement, we have established the Nigerian Procurement Portal, where citizens can monitor all government procurement processes in a transparent manner. We are currently improving this system to achieve greater effectiveness,” he added.

He observed that one of the reasons the country had made this much progress was because “we have backed our verbal commitments with deliberate action, by including OGP implementation in the national budget to ensure the sustainability of the partnership in Nigeria.

On his part, Mr Pradhan recalled that he was there in London in 2016 when Mr Buhari committed to the 77-member organisation as Number 70.

He described Nigeria as “an excellent performer, one of the most open across the partnership”.

Mr Pradhan also lauded the country for opening up its budget processes, contracts, procurement, and the extractive sector.

He advocated more reforms in disclosure of audits, establishing an e-procurement platform, and institutionalising OGP, among others.

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