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Integrating CSOs In Capacity Building Will Foster Success Of OGP – AGF Malami

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The Honourable 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.

Malami said this in the goodwill message he delivered at the OGP Support Unit meeting with Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) Focal Persons by a team of visiting Open Government Partnership (OGP) International Secretariat to Nigeria last Wednesday. 

In a statement made available to newsmen on Friday by Comrade Salihu Othman Isah, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in Abuja. 

Isah revealed that the HAGF represented by the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata 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 that 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 and Exchange Officer, OGP International Secretariat, Mr. Theophilous Chiviru in his remarks, applauded the President Muhammadu Buhari administration 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. 

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. 

He also expressed appreciation that Nigeria is seriously working in the spirit of OGP; he expressed 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. 

In her speech earlier, Special Assistant to the President on Justice Sector Reform in the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu gave a progress report of the OGP since inception in Nigeria. 

Mrs. Ibekaku-Nwagwu also listed the challenges and opportunities on OGP Secretariat’s coordination with MDAS, stressing that CSOs made up the heart of OGP National Steering Committee with 42 memberships; twenty-one apiece from Government Agencies and the CSOs.

According to her, the Steering Committee is the policy making body while the Secretariat provides technical support. 

She however frowned at the inconsistency of Focal Persons that attend meetings, urging the MDAs and CSOs to designate their officers to attend meetings for easy flow of discussions and adequate participation.

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

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