Speech of SGF, Boss Mustapha at Open Government Partnership (OGP ) held at NAF Centre on Monday 7the May 2018
I stand here today to applaud the relentless efforts of those who have made this week long event possible. In particular, I commend the efforts of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice who is also the co-chair of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) National Steering Committee and members of the OGP National Steering Committee made up of non-state actors, government institutions and the OGP Secretariat. I am deeply grateful for the invitation to make these introductory remarks on the Opening Day.
2. The theme of this event which centres on fighting corruption, the way governments serve their citizens and encouraging citizen participation in governance is in consonance with the goals and aspirations of this administration as espoused over the past three years. The global Open Government Partnership Week provides an opportunity for us to review the progress we have made so far in implementing the National Action Plan approved by Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in December 2016 and to discuss how we all can synergize our efforts and programmes.
3. More than any other time in the history of our nation, the government is waging an unprecedented fight against corruption through asset recovery, prosecution of acts of corruption, instituting new socio-economic systems and culture as well as rebuilding anti-corruption institutions to prevent future re-occurrence.
4. This administration has introduced policies and legislations that will help achieve goals set out in our OGP Commitments. Already the whistle-blower policy introduced in 2017 has now taken root as part of our system for prevention, detection and minimising corruption. Government has given assurances that all information received will be treated with utmost confidentiality. Therefore, a strong signal has been sent to those
that wish to pursue the unwholesome attitude of embezzling public funds, over-invoicing of contracts and other forms of diversion of public resources to desist from such, as they are being watched by all stakeholders.
5. I will not like to pre-empt the speech of His Excellency the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as I am sure that he will fully address government’s efforts at combating corruption, using the Open Government Partnership. I must however commend the partnership between government and civil society in fighting this scourge. Efforts such as what we have witnessed under this partnership go a long way in reassuring citizens of the commitment of the government.
6. In the past few weeks, some statistics have been bandied by many international organisations about the extent of corruption in Nigeria. Many of these figures are useful and serve as a wakeup call for us to strengthen our institutions to confront the monster of corruption. However, and regrettably, many of the institutions that produced these figures do not understand the contextual contours and the peculiarities of the corruption problem in Nigeria. Often, they are hasty to arrive at conclusions and make generalizations which paint a picture of perception that is far from reality. As part of the outcome of this week long event, I strongly suggest that we should evolve a reliable indigenous professional and objective mechanism for measuring impact and disseminating information on the state of corruption in Nigeria. Through this mechanism, we will be able to generate reliable figures upon which we can craft our policy interventions. It is trite to say that our story is best told by us and we should never expect foreign eyes to see our corruption problems better than ourselves.
7. Your Excellency, the Vice President, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen: For the first time in Nigeria, secret ownership of companies and properties will be history when a public register of beneficial owners of companies will become open and
operational. Government has also received assurances from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) that in the immediate future, necessary dossier of persons with significant control over incorporated companies will be generated and made available on demand. With all these complimentary efforts in place, I am confident that investigation of individuals involved in companies used for acts of corruption will become easier.
8. In the area of citizen participation, our citizens have continued to communicate without hindrance. This is evident in the level of participation on social media platforms. This government takes feedback seriously and it is only when freedom of expression is guaranteed that we can harvest the necessary feedback to enable us get to the real pulse of citizens. Within two weeks from today, the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation will upload its upgraded website (OSGF.GOV.NG) which has a window for citizens’ participation (Eparticipation.gov.ng). This window will be linked to the websites of all MDAs which allows your enquiries to reach its destination using the OSGF quality control centre as the gateway.
9. The important role of the media can never be over-emphasised in the achievement of the goals of government. Government has therefore accorded a priority status to the issue of freedom of the press. Indeed, to acknowledge and validate our efforts, I am pleased to inform you that Nigeria’s global ranking on press freedom scale has recently improved from No. 122 in 2017 to No. 119 in 2018, according to a report released by Reporters Without Borders(RSF). Government will continue to guarantee the freedom and security of those reporting the news in Nigeria, as well as civil society organisations operating in Nigeria.
10. Your Excellency the Vice President, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me thank you all for your presence and wish all of you the best of what promises to be a fruitful week of frank exchange of ideas and respectful engagement with stakeholders.