Friday, 1st December 2023

FG, OGP partner to reduce secrecy in governance

The Open Government Partnership Nigeria (OGP) is to partner with the Federal Government to adopt a globally acceptable framework to reduce all forms of secrecy in governance.

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria

The Open Government Partnership Nigeria (OGP) is to partner with the Federal Government to adopt a globally acceptable framework to reduce all forms of secrecy in governance.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nigeria joins OGP in 2017 as its 70th member-nation.

The National Coordinator of the programme, Mr. Benjamin Okolo disclosed this in his address at a training held to expose Public Officials and Institutions into the workings of OGP on Friday in Abuja.

Okolo explained that OGP was about peer-reviewing, learning and education of government functionaries on the need to ensure the elimination of secrecy in governance.

He said the main object of the partnership was to extinguish all enactments that legitimised secretive administration of government policies.

According to him, the federal government by joining the world body in 2017 is prepared to increase citizens’ participation in government decisions.

“OGP is simply aimed at enhancing transparency where all barriers that prevent citizens from participating in governance are removed to increase the integrity of the government.

“We have invited you to be trained to act as the drivers and reformers of the system.

“The trend now is that state actors and non-state actors have an equal stake in the affairs of government and we must ensure that the government becomes more accessible to the citizens.

“The anti-corruption fight can best be won when critical government information on budgets, procurement and contracts are made open for the citizens to evaluate.

“We are working toward the direction where all laws that stand the way of OGP like the Official Secret Act, CAMA and the Public Service Rules are amended to encourage open governance instead of negating it.

“The framework of the OGP is such the citizens formed the nucleus of the system. Where the citizens are not involved, then there is no OGP,’’ Okolo said.

Okolo, however, said the government had since commenced implementation of some of the body’s policies on open governance.

He said the introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and Bank Verification Number (BVN) were geared towards open administration of government affairs.

Director-General, Ethics and Corporate Compliance Institute of Nigeria (ECCIN), Mr. Agaidu Chukwuemeka, said the federal government would count on the expertise of public officials to drive the policy to an achievable end.

Chukwuemeka, therefore urged participants to show commitment to the training, adding that it was for the public good.

He explained that OGP if properly handled would eliminate the citizens’ reservations toward government policies.

“The essence of this is to bring the government and the governed at a meeting point where trust can be built for the growth of the country,’’ he said.

Ms. Obialunanma Nnaobi in her paper titled: “Open Government Partnership and Citizens’ Engagement’’, said the government could only earn the trust of the citizens if the right things were done.

She explained that OGP had come to dismantle the decades of distraught between the government and the people.

Nnaobi also said the government must encourage transparency, negotiation, consultation and feedback mechanism with the citizens, adding that such structure would enthrone integrity and participation of citizens in the government decision making the process.

Mrs. Nnenna Akejemeli, the National Coordinator of SERVICOM Nigeria, said her agency would collaborate with OGP to end impunity at various service points across the country.

Akajemeli also said that Heads of Ministries, Department, and Agencies (MDAs) must align their mandate charter into measurable timelines for the benefit of service takers.

She explained that OGP and SERVICOM would ensure that citizens’ right to satisfactory service was protected.

Akejemeli said government security agencies including the Military should always keep the citizens abreast of their basic activities that would undermine national security.

According to her, such development will help to reduce suspicion and restiveness with the citizens.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Akajemeli spoke on the paper titled: “Improving Service Delivery:-Role of SERVICOM and the MDAs’’.

The other papers presented were titled: “Open Government and Anti-Corruption’’, and “Introduction to Access to Information and the FOI Act 2011’’.

The rest were “Open Government Partnership and Inclusiveness-Youth, Women, PWDs, Vulnerable Groups’’, and “Sub-national Engagement in OGP: The role of Public Institution’’.

NAN reports that over 300 participants from different federal government agencies attended the training.