By Michael Peter, The Sight News
Abuja: Civil Society Organisations under the Open Government Initiative have commended the Federal Government’s efforts in implementing the Open Government Partnership, OGP, in Nigeria.
The groups gave the commendation Thursday in Abuja during a Citizens/Media Roundtable on the Anti-Corruption Commitments of the OGP organised by the Center for Leadership, Strategy and Development, Center LSD.
Addressing newsmen at the event, Center LSD’s Programmes Coordinator, Uchenna Arisukwu said President Buhari showed political will when he committed to transparency, accountability and openness in government at the Anti Corruption Summit in London in 2016, leading to some of the current changes already being experienced in the country.
“For us at the OGP, we are grateful for the political will and if you look at the developments in the country you can clearly see that something is already being done in the implementation of the National Action Plan, NAP.
“We are now looking at the existing laws setting up some of the concerned institutions like EFCC, CAC etc to identify loopholes in the laws so as to come up with suggestions to the National Assembly on areas of these laws that need strengthening.
“Also, in the commitment on the Ease of Doing Business, you can now sit in the comfort of your home and register your company with CAC. You can also get your drivers license and other documents online. These are what the OGP has been able to achieve. So the government agencies are doing their bits and the CSO’s too”, he insists.
He also advocated more funding for the National Orientation Agency, NOA to drive the process of engaging citizens at the grassroot on participation in the OGP process, insisting that the agency is key to the achievement of the OGP.
On his part, the Civil Society Adviser, OGP Secretariat, Stanley Achonu said the issue of asset recovery under the anti corruption commitment in the OGP ensures civil society involvement in the monitoring of how recovered funds are spent by government.
“As at yesterday Nigeria and Switzerland signed a bilateral agreement to return about 320 million dollars from the Swizz government to Nigeria. That agreement also includes certain mechanism that includes monitoring the usage of these funds so that it is not re-looted. So civil society as part of the OGP is actively involved in monitoring this in collaboration with world bank as supervising entity”, he disclosed.
The Convener, Protest to Power, Jaye Gaskiya who also addressed newsmen acknowledged that some progress has been made in implementing the OGP in the country, but decried the slow pace of acceptance at the State level, where he pointed out that implementation has met with strong resistance.
He noted that “part of the resistance is that States always say that federal laws have to be domesticated at the State level before it can have the force of law. That is actually alien to our constitution. It is also alien to the practice of federalism and international relations. You domesticate international laws, You don’t domesticate national laws”.
The Convener of Say No Campaign, Ezenwa Nwagwu on his part, held that the fact that the government has made the commitments to open governance, it now behoves on the citizens to expand the frontiers of accountability and transparency by holding government to account on its commitments.
He maintained that “anytime we wake up as citizens get off our aloofness, get off our insensitivity, get off our lack if interest, we will make the change that we want in our country”.