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Open Govt Partnership: We will Continue to Ensure Transparency, Accountability

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Implementation of OGP has improved Nigeria’s image in international community

The vice president of Nigeria has stressed on the present administration will power to bring good governance to the nation, as president Buhari’s administration continue to bring out the good image of Nigeria to the rest of the World.  The vice president made this assertion in a statement signed by Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity), Laolu Akande,
Office of the Vice President on Monday at the Open Government Partnership held at the NAF Conference Centre, Abuja

 

“We have, since we assumed office three years ago, made remarkable progress in pushing the frontiers of transparency and accountability in the Federal Government. One of the first things that the President did when we took office was to establish the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), to coordinate our reform efforts in this regard” Osinbajo said

“We inherited a Treasury Single Account (TSA) system that existed mainly as an idea, without any committed implementation. Since the Presidential Order by President Buhari in August 2015, we have made remarkable progress in expanding the reach of the TSA, so that today, we are almost at 100 percent compliance. 

“We ought to equally acknowledge that there is a limit to what civil society by itself can accomplish by itself, without building bridges with the public sector that is very often the target of its work. What our experience with OGP in Nigeria has proven, is that it is possible to build a coalition of like-minded reformers drawn from government and non-state actors”the VP stated further

“In addition to joining the OGP, and developing a National Action Plan in 2016, the Federal Government also established a Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), housed in the Federal Ministry of Finance, to clean up the Federal payroll and pensions systems, across all our Ministries, Departments and Agencies. PICA’s work in this regard has helped the Federal Government save more than N200 Billion by eliminating ghost workers. Like the TSA, we are also aggressively expanding the rollout of the Government Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), to ensure that the loopholes that enable payroll fraud are permanently blocked.” – Vice President
Th Vice President Speech read further thus;

SPEECH DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, VICE PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE  OPEN GOVERNMENT PARTNERSHIP (OGP) WEEK, HELD AT THE NAF CONFERENCE CENTRE, ABUJA, ON MONDAY, MAY 7, 2018.

Protocol
It really is a special pleasure to be here with you, as we commence the Open Government Partnership Week in Nigeria.  Our government came into office on the back of a three-pronged agenda, one ensuring security, two rebuilding the economy, and third, vigorously prosecuting the fight against corruption.

This last issue, corruption, has been an existential issue for Nigeria, threatening the very fundament of our existence. It has ensured that, for too long, the resources meant for the majority, have been cornered by a greedy minority.

This issue of corruption underlines every aspect of our national life, from our security situation to the state of our economy. It was the reason why, in spite of record oil revenues between 2011 and 2013/14, we saw no savings, and very little investment in infrastructure and jobs, and, in spite of the billions of dollars reportedly invested in security, the Boko Haram insurgency and other cases of insecurity did not abate.

Our government has adopted a two-step approach to dealing with this scourge of systemic corruption. The first is to stop grand corruption and the accompanying impunity. The second step and the more enduring one, is what this week is about, creating a self- sustaining system that assures transparency and accountability.

We have, since we assumed office three years ago, made remarkable progress in pushing the frontiers of transparency and accountability in the Federal Government. One of the first things that the President did when we took office was to establish the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), to coordinate our reform efforts in this regard.

We inherited a Treasury Single Account (TSA) system that existed mainly as an idea, without any committed implementation. Since the Presidential Order by President Buhari in August 2015, we have made remarkable progress in expanding the reach of the TSA, so that today, we are almost at 100 percent compliance.

The London Anti-Corruption Summit in May 2016 was an important milestone for us, in our anti-Corruption efforts, because it helped crystallize various national commitments into an effective multinational anti-corruption coalition.

It was at that conference that Nigeria committed to joining the OGP, and we fulfilled this commitment in July 2017 when we became the 70th country to join the Open Government Partnership (OGP), an international multi-stakeholder initiative, focused on improving transparency, accountability, citizen participation and responsiveness to citizens through technology and innovation. Following this, President Buhari constituted the OGP National Steering Committee (NSC), with the Federal Ministry of Justice as the Coordinating Ministry.

The OGP Nigeria has since developed its first National Action Plan (NAP) of fourteen commitments with focus on four thematic areas of Fiscal Transparency, Anti-Corruption, Access to Information and Citizens’ Engagement.

One of the remarkable things about the OGP is that it was designed to function as a partnership between the governments and the private sector. Without this coalition-building, I doubt that much progress would be achievable. Regardless of whether the goal is improving infrastructure or fighting corruption, it is clear, as it has always been, that governments cannot do it alone.

The skills, experience, resources and technology that the private sector brings to the table, are often invaluable and in many instances represent the difference between success and failure. We ought to equally acknowledge that there is a limit to what civil society by itself can accomplish by itself, without building bridges with the public sector that is very often the target of its work. What our experience with OGP in Nigeria has proven, is that it is possible to build a coalition of like-minded reformers drawn from government and non-state actors.

In addition to joining the OGP, and developing a National Action Plan in 2016, the Federal Government also established a Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), housed in the Federal Ministry of Finance, to clean up the Federal payroll and pensions systems, across all our Ministries, Departments and Agencies. PICA’s work in this regard has helped the Federal Government save more than N200 Billion by eliminating ghost workers. Like the TSA, we are also aggressively expanding the rollout of the Government Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), to ensure that the loopholes that enable payroll fraud are permanently blocked. PICA also oversees the Whistleblowing Programme we launched in December 2016. That Programme had seen recoveries of N7.8 billion, $378 million and 27,800 pounds sterling, as at March 2018.

Nigeria’s experience has shown that technology and innovations, as well as social media platforms, are changing the ways in which citizens engage with government, and empowering citizens and non-state actors to take a more active role in holding government to account. On our part, the Buhari administration is also actively leveraging technology in a way no previous government in Nigeria has, to underpin the President’s commitment to accountable governance. Indeed, much of the focus of the OGP is on the ways in which technology can help scale up the impact and reach of public sector anti-corruption and transparency initiatives.

I’ve spoken previously about our work expanding the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS). A National Open Contracting Platform (NOCOPO), developed by the Bureau for Public Procurement, has become operational and is currently being piloted in a number of government institutions.

Similarly, the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) launched its Public Private Partnerships (PPP) Contracts Disclosure Portal in September 2017, to ensure the timely disclosure of contract information from project initiation through to implementation.

The Budget Office of the Federation, in line with global best practice and Open Budget Survey Index, also developed the citizens ‘I-Monitor’ Portal which enables citizens across the country to access budget information in real time and to monitor projects while encouraging proactive feedback to the government. An Open Contracting Working Group made up of civil society organizations and government institutions, are working together to enhance citizens’ access to, and understanding of procurement information.

Civil Society Organisations are also taking the lead in interesting ways. Take the example of BudgIT, a civil society partner that works on transparency in budgeting and tracking of government expenditure, using technology and graphic design. BudgIT has also developed Tracka.ng, a tool that enables citizens to share updates on budget implementation in their communities.

The Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) has led the way in the development of ‘BUDESHI’, a technology platform that will assist non-state actors to monitor ongoing procurements.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, one of the important areas of progress is the ongoing effort to establish a public register of beneficial owners. It is our hope that this will help bring to an end, the era of anonymous company ownership which aids capital flight, illicit financial flows and tax evasion. The Nigeria Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) is working closely with the Government of the United Kingdom and the Open Ownership – a global project, whose aim is to build an Open Global Beneficial Ownership Register – to develop Open Ownership Data Standards to achieve this goal.

Since we joined the OGP, access to public information premised on the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act enacted in 2011, has improved significantly. I am told that at least 106 government institutions now have designated FOI Desk Officers, to ensure speedy responses to information requests in compliance with the (FOI) Act and the commitments we have made under the Nigeria OGP National Action Plan.

We have set up a Presidential Committee on Asset Recovery (PCAR), and developed procedures and guidance to ensure that all recovered funds are paid into a single Central Bank Asset Recovery account, for improved transparency and ease of management.

The Federal Government’s agreement with the Swiss Government on the return of looted funds traced to former Head of State General Sani Abacha, led to the remittance of US$322 million in December 2017. This historic agreement also includes CSO monitoring of the utilization of the returned asset. I must acknowledge the role played by The Africa Network for Environment & Economic Justice (ANEEJ) in the negotiation of this agreement and leading of other CSOs in monitoring the utilization of the fund.

Since 2017, our annual national budgets have included a line item on revenue generated from asset recoveries. All funds forfeited to the Federal Government are being included in our yearly budget proposals, for appropriation by the National Assembly. We have also committed to investing these recovered funds on Infrastructure projects and our National Social Investment Programme. In addition, we have submitted a Bill to the National Assembly for the purpose of enacting a more comprehensive legislation on proceeds of crime.

The successes recorded from the implementation of the OGP framework, have contributed in no small measure to the improvement in the perception of Nigeria’s business environment by investors, businesses, and the international community.

Through the work of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, and the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), who are also members of the OGP National Steering Committee, Nigeria moved 24 places up on the World Bank’s 2017 Doing Business Index. The reforms, many of them heavily dependent on technology, have seen business registration time, reduced to under 48 hours, simplified processes for paying taxes and obtaining Nigerian visas, and improved access not just to credit by businesses, but also to credit information by potential lenders. The reforms have also led to the passage of landmark reform legislation like the Secured Transactions in Moveable Assets Act of 2017 and Trading Reporting Act 2017.

As we make progress at the federal level, we are also working with the States, through the subnational engagement framework, under the OGP National Action Plan, to improve transparency, accountability and citizen participation at other levels of governance. I am delighted to note that Kaduna State has not only developed its OGP State Action Plan, which was approved by the State Executive Council early this year, it has also become one of the first pilot states adopted from Nigeria by the OGP International.

I am equally delighted, that our efforts in fighting corruption and deepening good governance are being recognized and applauded globally. I have been told by the OGP Secretariat, that Nigeria was this year, elected into the global steering committee of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). And then there was the designation, in 2017, of President Buhari as the African Union’s 2018 ‘Anti-corruption Champion’. This is yet another testament to the hard work and political will that this administration has demonstrated in the fight against corruption, even in the face of great resistance.

There is no doubt that governments which seek to earn and sustain the trust of citizens, must learn to maintain high standards of transparency. The role of the OGP, in pushing for and achieving these high standards is evident, and wholly deserving of commendation.

Let me, on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, extend our sincere gratitude, to all those who have made today possible, particularly the OGP Steering Committee, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, who is also the co-chair and the non-state co-chair of the OGP National Steering Committee, members of the OGP National Steering Committee made up of non-state actors, government institutions and the OGP Secretariat.

Distinguished participants, as we deliberate this week on the progress made by the OGP Nigeria, develop new ideas for future work to expand civic engagements, I encourage you to come up with policy recommendations that can radically help in further opening up Government at all levels in Nigeria.

We look forward to receiving the final report and recommendations at the end of this week. I thank you for your kind attention.

Just before I sit, I have the very distinguished pleasure of presenting the OGP Nigeria National Action Plan, 2017 – 2019. Thank you very much.

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Buhari Administration worst than Jonathan- Frank

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By Abdullahi Mohammed

 

 

The self acclaimed critic of bad governance, a suspended chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Timi Frank said the present administration is worst than the last administration while apologising to the former hPresident Goodluck Jonathan for contributing to oust him while in office.

Mr Frank asserted  that judging from events since President Muhammadu Buhari took over three years ago from Jonathan, the latter was a better leader than the former, hence his apology to the former Nigerian leader.

He had since November 2016 been suspended as a member of the APC for making disparaging comments in the media about the the party’s leadership.

As one of the then opposition leaders, the APC Chieftain had criticised Jonathan in the buildup to the 2015 election. He was a member of the National Working Committee, NWC, of his party while the APC was an opposition party.

Conveying his apology in an open letter, the Frank noted that life is worthless under President Buhari.

 

“I would first of all like to use this opportunity to formally apologise to the immediate past President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, for all the tantrums and mistreatment orchestrated by me against his person while he held sway at the helm of affairs of our great country.

“Indeed, I and many others may have misunderstood Jonathan’s silence for weakness and thus pushed harder to malign his person and portray him as a weak leader.

“Having achieved the change agenda, it is now crystal clear, that the change we had clamoured for is not the change we got. Under your (Buhari) tenure the rule of law has been replaced with the rule of force. You have injected fear into the society. People who voted for you to save them from corruption and ineptitude have been barred from speaking up against the myriads of evil and wicked acts being perpetrated by officials in your government.

“Unfortunately, corruption is in the upward swing under your watch. This is why I had to apologize to Jonathan since events of the last three years have shown the former president was a better leader.

“People freely expressed themselves under Jonathan’s administration without fear of being branded cultists’ sponsors, gunrunners or aiding murderers. But not so under this administration.

“Under Jonathan, Nigerians enjoyed freedom of speech, association and right to hold dissenting views including organising and partaking in protests against unwelcome government policies. All these are no go areas today. Does it mean Jonathan was a better democrat? It is a fact that no member of the APC which was then in the opposition before 2015 was jailed or harassed for expressing dissent,” Frank said in his letter.

He also said the current government has shown disdain for court orders.

“El-Zakzaky and Dasuki will not be in jail today but for the present rule of force under this government. It is a pity that today democracy and freedom have become scarce. Insecurity continues unabated.

“Killings take place on a daily basis across the country either by kidnappers, Boko Haram insurgents, herdsmen, and other criminal elements having a free reign around the country. Life has become worthless and uncertain and people cannot speak out for fear of being labeled anti-government by your regime.

“Besides, instead of heeding the wise counsel of leaders like Obasanjo, IBB, TY. Danjuma, General Gowon, and religious leaders like Bakare and Oyedepo, you have again declared to seek reelection as President. You even boasted in Bauchi that you will be reelected which was akin to saying you will rig yourself back into office,” he said.

Frank added that history will not be fair to him if he had championed campaigns against Jonathan and remained silent in the face of “anti-democratic tendencies and sheer impunity”.

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It will be Dicey to Remove Buhari in 2019- Presidency

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In a bid to state the reason why president Muhammadu Buhari should be given second term in the office, thPresidency has warned Nigeria against the move to outers President Buhari  from office in the forth coming 2019 general election.

The presidency made this known  on Sunday by the Senior Special Assistant to the president on Media and publicity, Garba Shehu who  said if the president is removed out from office in the 2019 election, the gains of his administration will be lost.

Shehu said PDP politicians were busy going around the country with “Change the Change” campaign, canvassing for the removal of the All Progressive Congress (APC) led by the president whose campaign slogan was “Change.”

While acknowledging that the PDP government established the present anti-corruption institutions, he said the removal of the Buhari will mean a return to the old order where, according to him, corruption had a free rein while seized looted assets will be returned to corrupt individuals.

“The real meaning and cost of the “Changing the Change,” is that if they win the next election, they will not take us back to where we were in 2015, they will mostly reverse the progress the APC has brought to the nation.

“The main reason for the defeat of the PDP in 2015 was corruption. The present administration at the centre led by President Muhammadu Buhari has so far presented a corrupt-free image of itself. It has also succeeded in abolishing grand corruption at the top and as attested to by the American President, Donald Trump.

“The government has significantly brought down the level of corruption in the whole country. It has, however, warned over and again that corruption was fighting back.

“Many who are discerning would have read this from President Buhari’s speech when he inaugurated the impressive new headquarters building of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) a week ago. He narrated how and why he was overthrown as a military Head of State in the 80s.

“In that speech, he said not only was he kicked out because he fought corruption, the ones who took power freed all those that he had jailed, and whatever they stole was returned to them. He took their place in prison and stayed there without trial for 36 months, until that day when a journalist in Benin, now in Edo, broke the story that he had lost his mother. That was when he was allowed to go home.

“The real difference between the PDP and the current APC administration is that although they mouthed a flood of rhetoric against corruption, in fact rightfully lay the claim of founding the institutions now in the forefront of fighting corruption as a government, the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, they had intended to keep them as toys, or bulldogs which teeth had been removed. No, they never intended that the war against corruption would be taken this far.

“To change the change would mean that the teeth of the bulldog will be removed. It would then only bark but not bite.

“In this country, politics is often considered as a synonym of corruption. The previous government came under huge criticism for scandals like that discovered in arms procurements in the office of the National Security Adviser, NSA which transformed itself into a major source of funding of the PDP; NNPC crude oil thefts, broadband spectrum licensing scandal, oil subsidy scam and so many others but the present government has not faced any such corruption allegations.

“Although he said he was unafraid and would not bend, the President’s concern, and fear on the part of many is that if a corrupt leader takes over, it will be happy days all over again for former Oil Minister Diezani Allison-Maduekwe who has so far forfeited USD 153 million, N23.4 billion, and USD 4m and USD 5m in separate accounts. “Change the Change” would mean she will get the money back. So would the former Managing Director of the maritime agency, NIMASA get back GBP 578,080 seized from him and the Ikoyi apartment owners have back their USD43.4m; N23m and GBP 27,800.

“The hidden owner of the Lagos cash shop may then step forward to reclaim their N449.6 million; the ex-Naval Chiefs will have returned to them the already forfeited N1.8 billion; the Governors Forum paid back their N1.4 billion and the major oil marketers, from whom the EFCC has so far seized N328.9 billion will smile their ways to the bank.

“The banks themselves will equally join the party, happily getting back N27.7 billion they “ate” from taxes they failed to remit; the scion of the Akinjides, Jumoke will have N650 million awarded to her while those scammers in INEC who coughed out N1 billion will equally get money back and charges standing against them in court may be dropped.

“But the happiest of them all will be Mrs. Jonathan, who will get the first priority when the refunds start coming for obvious reasons. The former First Lady would not anymore need lawyers to keep her mountain of gifts, counted in huge millions of dollars, billions of Naira, hotels and buildings.

“The list of people who oppose the Buhari government and yearning to “change the change” include a number of parliamentarians, policemen, customs officials, immigration officials, civil servants now rooting for other political parties, not leaving out those various businesses and platforms owned by these political parties directly or indirectly.

“The Buhari win in 2015, and the possibility of four more years have crumbled their dreams of endlessly looting the state and the growing list of achievements of the administration is not doing any good for them.”

The Presidency also spoke of some other programmes being implemented by the current administration which it said could be jeopardized if Buhari does not return to office in 2019 including Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) and the Whistle Blower policy.

Shehu further argued: “Another formidable group unhappy with the change and wish it reversed are the importers of diesel and generators. Nigeria ranks as the second biggest importer of generators all over the world,” adding that the present administration has raised power availability to 7,000mw.

He said the government has continued to improve infrastructure through massive spending leading to the revival of railways services among others in the country.

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APC Will Never Take Over Ekiti State Olusola Advises Buhari

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By Abdullahi Mohammed

 

 

In what looks like a positive mood for the People Democratic Party(PDP),  Ekiti state Deputy Kolapo Olusola, has advised president Muhammadu Buhari  to perish the thought of winning or to take over  Ekiti State. Mr. Olusola  gave this advise in a statement released by his campaign organisation,in respect to the July 14 governorship election.

Olusola campaign spokesman   Lere Olayinka, on Thursday challenged President Buhari to tell Nigerians what he has done for the State in the last three and half years.

“President Muhammadu Buhari should perish the thought of his anointed candidate, Dr Kayode Fayemi, wining the July 14 election and face the reality of his failed Presidency with a view to making amends before he is sent back to Daura next year.

“Even in Isan Ekiti, Fayemi’s hometown, nothing has happened to the Clay Kaolin that is there in large quantity despite that their son is in charge of solid minerals.

“Funny that the President said Ekiti must return to the fold of progressive states. Is he talking about the same so-called progressives States that are sacking workers in their thousands? Or the APC States where herdsmen are killing people in gruesome manner on daily basis is what he wants Ekiti State to join?

“Truly, Ekiti people are well known for their forthrightness, candour and integrity. They will never subject themselves to the whim and caprices of a President who looked the other way when thousands of people were being killed by herdsmen in Benue, Taraba, Plateau and other states.

“Having returned to the number one position in education, Ekiti will never go back to that era that it was in 34th position. Teachers will never use their votes to return the State to that perilous time when their jobs were constantly threatened with Competency Test and Principals demoted and sent to classrooms as mere classroom teachers.

“Local Government workers in Ekiti State will not allow a return of Fayemi’s ‘Boko Haram’ that made their lives impossible for over three years.

“Most importantly, Ekiti will never return to that inglorious era of APC government of Fayemi when over N500 million was used to plant flowers that have remained invisible up till today and over N60 billion loan taken with nothing to show.

“Finally, with Governor Ayodele Fayose and the PDP, it is evidently clear that Ekiti is already moving steadily to its promised land, with unprecedented infrastructural development and will never return to the land of despair, bloodshed, hunger and hopelessness that President Buhari and his APC represent,” Olayinka said.

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