Abubakar Malami, SAN and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, has said that corruption more than anything else is the biggest impediments to Nigeria’s development.
Comrade Salihu Othman Isah, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, said the AGF stated this in his keynote address at the 1st Meeting of the National Steering Committee of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) on Tuesday in Abuja.
Isah revealed that the Minister re-emphasised President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to make governance more open, accountable and responsive to the citizenry.
He said, “In May, 2016 the President attended the International Anti-Corruption Summit organised by the government of United Kingdom where he reaffirmed his commitment to strengthen anti-corruption reforms through implementing programs aimed at: Exposing Corruption, Punishing the corrupt and providing support to victims who has suffered from corruption and thirdly, Driving out the culture of corruption”.
Malami further stated that the Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a multi-stakeholder initiative focused on improving transparency, accountability, citizen participation and responsiveness to citizens through technology and innovation, which Nigeria formally joined the initiative as the 70th country in July, 2016.
He disclosed that President Buhari has approved the Open Government Partnership National Steering Committee of which the Federal Ministry of Justice is coordinating, adding that it consists of representatives of the government Ministries, Agencies and Departments (MDAs) as well as Civil Society Organisations, Organised private sector and professional associations.
The AGF explained that these group representing various institutions have worked together to co-create a two-year National Action Plan (NAP) to mainstream transparency mechanisms in the management of public funds across all sectors and citizen engagement.
He highlighted the progress made so far since Nigeria joined the OGP as follows: the commencement of consultation on the implementation of the Beneficial Ownership Transparency of which President Buhari had presented the Money Laundering Prevention and Prohibition Bill, 2016 to the Parliament, stressing that the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the Nigeria Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) are also working together to develop a register of beneficial owners of all companies operating in Nigerian extractive industry.
According to him, the United Kingdom government has commenced the implementation of beneficial ownership public register in 2016 which was among one of the first to commence consultation process involving a triangular process (Government, Business, and Civil Society) towards the establishment of public register of beneficial owners.
Malami expressed that, in the area of open contracting, the President has recently approved Executive Orders to improve transparency in government contracting, surmising that amongst other achievements is the Whistle Blowers Policy which the Federal Ministry of Finance just issued to enable voluntary disclosure of stolen assets.
Furthermore, “the application of the Freedom of Information Act is becoming more robust and access to public information is increasing.
The OGP Secretariat plans to train all relevant agencies to ensure effective application of the FOI law”, he affirmed.
Relatively, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, also said everyone is all victims of corruption.
Mohammed insisted that, it consists actions that are often clandestine and practices that those who perpetrate it always try to conceal and it is now acknowledged that many of our political, social and especially economic problems in Nigeria is traceable to corruption.