The Beneficial Ownership Transparency (BOT), under which Nigeria is establishing a public register of beneficial owners of companies, can help to disrupt the opacity on which criminals rely to perpetrate financial crimes, according to the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, who also the Government Co-Chair for the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in Nigeria. He spoke while welcoming news of Nigeria winning the 2021 OGP Impact Award for Africa and Middle East Region for its implementation of the BOT commitment in its first OGP National Action Plan (NAP).
Nigeria OGP National Steering Committee Co-chairs – Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba and the Chief Executive Officer of Public Private Development Centre (PPDC), Nkem Ilo, while welcoming the recognition of Nigeria’s progress acknowledged that the road ahead is still long.
Prince Agba said that “Beneficial Ownership Transparency will make more information about the individuals who own or control registered legal entities and arrangements available to those who can use it effectively.”
He further stated that, “by making Beneficial Ownership information available to authorities, businesses, and the public, Beneficial Ownership Transparency through the public register of beneficial owners can help disrupt the opacity on which criminals rely to perpetrate financial crimes. Through a public register of Beneficial Owners, information about beneficial owners of companies and entities will be made available for financial and regulatory authorities and the general public to access and make use of.”
He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his political leadership that, according to the Minister, has allowed NEITI and CAC to aggressively implement this commitment.
The announcement of Nigeria winning the 2021 OGP Impact Award was made by the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Global Support Unit which said “Opacity in Nigeria’s extractives sector has decimated communities, destroyed lives and led to the rise of militancy in oil producing regions. The Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) was passed in 2020 – making it mandatory to disclose persons with significant control of companies in a register of beneficial owners to enhance corporate accountability and transparency. It will enable public authorities to track the proceeds of corruption and redirect the resources for national benefit.”
Speaking on the award, the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, stated that “Nigeria is among nine of the global [Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative] EITI implementing countries of the Opening Extractives initiative. The Award is impressive and most encouraging, considering the political will and enormous resources the government has deployed to reposition the extractive industry to benefit all Nigerians.”
Dr. Orji thanked the OGP [Nigeria] National Steering Committee, sister agencies especially CAC as well as Civil Society Organisations and donors for their support as well saying,” Nigeria’s journey to beneficial ownership disclosure followed a trajectory.”
He recounted that in December 2019, NEITI created a Beneficial Ownership Register for extractive industries companies and became the first in Africa to have such a register adding, in 2021, Nigeria enacted the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and made copious provisions for beneficial ownership disclosures. He said Nigeria is also among the nine global EITI implementing countries of the Opening Extractives initiative.
He concluded saying “When Beneficial Ownership is fully mainstreamed into Nigeria’s governance culture, there will be public trust, citizen’s confidence, and increased revenue growth.”
In a similar vein, the Registrar General of Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Alhaji Garba Abubakar, outlined the next phase of the implementation of BOT saying “Corporate Affairs Commission is designed to be a part of history as Nigeria celebrates the award. This has been made possible by signing into law the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020 by the President providing a legal framework for Beneficial Ownership Information Disclosure in Nigeria. The second phase of deployment will ensure compliance with the global requirements with emphasis on collection, storing, publishing and sharing quality Beneficial Ownership Data amongst implementing countries”
The Open Government Partnership is a multilateral and multinational initiative that seeks to promote transparency, participation and collaboration in government. It celebrates the hard work of open government reformers worldwide and recognises the impact of their work in governance.