By Gabriel Ameh, The Sight News
Abuja-Following the recent meeting held in Abuja by Open Governance Policy (OGP) in order to encourage accountability, transparency and citizens participation to open governance, policy dialogues with Media to increase citizens participation in governance, the Open government policy of Nigeria has been said to have recorded considerable progress.
This is as the OGP in the spirit of transparency on Tuesday, called for an overview of the self assessment and progress report made with the Civil Society Organizations and the Media partners on progress and milestones achieved so far.
Speaking in Abuja at a reflection session with Civil Societies and Media groups on the implementation of OGP commitments, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, acknowledged the efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s announcement and submission of letter of intent of Nigeria to join the Global OGP family.
He however, stated that the OGP National Action Plan (NAP) which was submitted in Paris in 2016,with a very strong synergy amongst the Government,Civil Society Organizations, private sector and development partners began implementation of the NAP in January 2017 with completion date in June 2019.
The AGF, who was represented by the Senior Adviser to the President on Justice Reform and the National OGP Coordinator, Barr. Mrs. Juliet Nwagwu, noted that, despite the slow start of implementation of the NAP due to some hick ups, such as putting up the OGP secretariat structure in place, progress and implementation has continued apace.
He further highlighted briefly on the various commitments that recorded progress by the different CSOs and other relevant partners. Notably amongst the progress made in the various commitments as stressed by the AGF includes; “Ministry of Budget and National Planning (MBNP) which has held two public consultative meetings in Abuja and Lagos to engage civil society, private sector, trade unions and citizens of the proposed 2018 budget; MDAs budget is being published on the website of the Budget office of the federation (BOF) and Budget implementation Report (BIR) is also published on the site.
“The Public private Development centre (PPDC) and other CSOs commitment has continued to sensitise citizens on the procurement process, highlighting their roles, educating them on how to monitor the procurement using a weekly radio program in Abuja and other cities” he said.
The AGF reiterated the great progress made by the commitment of the lead implementing agency FIRS and (PEBEC) respectively, adding that “the federal ministry of trade and investment through the Presidential Enabling Business Environment council (PEBEC) has improved the ease of doing business in Nigeria. The recent World bank Ease of Doing Business Ranking shows that Nigeria has moved up by 24 points in the 2017 ranking to 145th in 2018 ranking”
He also commended the efforts of the Corporate Affairs Commission’s (CAC) commitment that has worked with relevant stakeholders to draft an amendment bill of the company and allied matters act (CAMA) to give legal backing to beneficial owners register.
Also speaking, The National Team Leader of Engaged Citizens Pillar-ECP-PERL Dr. Adiya Ode, stated that, based on the level of work done so far by the various CSOs, citizens are better aware and knowledgeable compared to other places on what is meant to come to them and the level of accountability the citizens can demand from the government.
While commending the overview self-assessment report by OGP, She further told participant that government and citizens are to sign up concrete commitment that are time bound and specific and working on the commitments should be on partnership and equal bases, which is what OGP has brought to the table.
She however spoke on issue related to the fear that the government may not see citizens as equal partners but pay huge services to partnership in governance and expressed concern about citizens group that may not have sufficient capacity, resources and strategy enough to coordinate and engage government on an equal bases.
Meanwhile she commended the great milestone achieved by OGP after developing the National Action Plan (NAP) in 2017 and urged OGP to intensify their level of engagement, to ensure that their engagement is geared towards carrying every one along, most importantly their engagements must be all inclusive.