FG earmarks N250m to fund Open Government Partnership –

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The minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba has disclosed that the federal government has secured N250 million to fund Open Government Partnership.

The minister disclosed this at the ongoing 2021 Open Government Partnership Week and National Steering Committee Interactive Session with Thematic Working Groups hosted by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning in Abuja.

Though, the money had been secured for OGP, he said the ministry had not started the budget line.

According to Agba, the ministry had never had such a budget line since 2016 Nigeria joined OGP but had always gotten 100% funding for OGP by development partners.

‘‘We secured the budget line; we have not started the budget line. It is about 250m to take care of OGP activities. Since 2016, we never had budget line; it has always being 100% supported by development partners. It is a way of ensuring sustainability of OGP and taking full ownership of it with all the experience to create budget line.’’

OGP is an international multi-stakeholder initiative focused on improving transparency, accountability, citizen participation and responsiveness to citizens through technology and innovation.

Nigeria joined the partnership in July 2016 to strengthen and deepen institutional and policy reforms across the country. In order to achieve these reforms, the OGP countries design Action Plans as a road-map of clarity and focus for a better implementation of OGP principles.

Nigeria’s Action Plan seeks to deepen and mainstream transparency, accountability and openness in the management of public resources.

Nigeria is currently implementing the 2nd OGP National Action Plan with 16 transformative commitments drawn from seven thematic areas of fiscal transparency working group; extractive transparency working group and access to information working group among others.

Speaking on the recommendations of the Working Groups, the Minister said OGP Action Plan has been extended by 1 year due to COVID-19 pandemic but noted that Nigeria had done well in key areas.

‘‘We have done well in three key areas, around budget process, the transparency we have there. There are rooms for improvement. Now that we have taken some steps, it means we are in right direction. We are beginning to mature, so we are expected to do more.

‘‘What we should be doing going forward, I suggest that we should raise early warning signs of the possibility of implementing Action Plan; measure a new part of the work by working closely with; work on sustainability plan of the work so that the impact of the work can outlive the implementation, and more importantly affect the lives of people; for us to work with the secretariat to develop communicate plans for the work that they are currently doing.

‘‘There are five basic principles about the NAP, whether NAP I or 2. It is to ensure there is inclusiveness, transparency, integrity in that we do.

‘‘For me, citizens need to be informed that government is with them, for them and not forgetting them.

Revenue from donors have been dwindling, however, we will continue to have budget line to support.’’

When asked to respond to the poor ranking of Nigeria by Transparency International, the minister said: ‘‘It depends on how Transparency International looked at it and the information available to them and those they made contact with. When you are looking at corruption, there is corruption at different levels. Every other Nigerian is perceived to be corrupt.

‘‘But I disagree that corruption is now increasing, maybe because the awareness is now increasing, not more is talked about it. The more aware we are, the better it for us, the more conscious people are, the more we put verves on those opportunities.’’

On whether the dwindling revenue from international donors has to do with corruption, he said: ‘‘It has nothing to do with corruption, revenues generally across the world are dwindling because of the COVID-19 pandemic with less revenue there is little donors can do.

‘‘Even with the country, there is little we can do from what we are earning. That is why even though; we have 57% reduction in the revenue, due to COVID19 we have had to look for other ways to augmenting our budget.’’

Earlier in her welcome address, the National Coordinator, OGP National Secretariat, Dr. Anne Nzegwu informed that the thematic working groups were designed to carry forward the implementation of the activities of the National Action Plan in the various thematic areas.

‘‘At the heart of the implementation of OGP principles and the National Action Plan in Nigeria are the Thematic Working Groups. This technical groups were established to assist the OGP Secretariat in stakeholder engagement bringing together experts from civil society organizations and private sector institutions and public sector institutions to achieve the objectives of the National Action Plan and to assist the OGP Secretariat in technical reviews, policy development and implementation,’’ she said.

While emphasized the importance of the Thematic Working Groups to the OGP process, Nzegwu pledged the commitment of the National Steering Committee to OGP process to finding ways of improving the modus operandi of the thematic Working Group to ensure that no stone is left unturned in the implementation of the activities in the National Action Plan.

The interactive session was meant to offer platform for co-chair of the 7 Thematic Working Groups and the National Steering Committee to discuss the status of the working Groups as well as chart the way forward.

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