Three non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – Media Rights Agenda (MRA), BudgIT Nigeria, and Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) have called on the Federal Government to take quick action that will enable it qualify for the Open Government Partnership (OGP) membership.
OGP is a global initiative that was launched on September 20 2011 to ensure governments’ commitment to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.
Nigeria showed interest in joining the OGP in November 2012 but has since not been able to meet the eligibility requirements of 16 points divided equally among four areas of governance.
These four areas are: Access to Information; Fiscal Transparency; Income and Public Asset Disclosure by Elected or Senior Public Officials and Citizen Engagement. Nigeria was only able to muster a total of 10 points.
According to the three NGOs, “Nigeria’s inability to meet OGP’s eligibility requirements constitutes a major slur on the country’s image and reputation, particularly in the light that six other African countries are already members of the OGP.”
“Part of the 60 member countries of the global initiative are South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Tanzania and Malawi”.
“Nigeria’s non-qualification arises mainly as a result of the fact that there is no open disclosure of audit reports of public accounts; assets disclosures made by public officers are not publicly available while incomes are not disclosed; and government engagement with citizens is considered inadequate”.
The NGOs made the following recommendations to the Federal Government to work on and ensure that Nigeria is eligible to become a member of OGP:
- Ensure that audit reports of public accounts, particularly by the Auditor-General of the Federation, are proactively disclosed and made available to members of the public.
- Ensure that incomes of all categories of public officers are proactively disclosed as required by Section 2(3) (d) (vi) of the Freedom of Information Act and other applicable laws.
- The Code of Conduct Bureau should bring itself into compliance with the Freedom of Information Act by acceding to requests from members of the public for it to disclose asset declarations in its custody submitted by elected and senior government officials, which constitute information maintained by it as a public institution within the meaning of the Act.
- Improve citizen participation and civic engagement in policy-making and in all aspects of governance, including around the issue of Nigeria’s membership of the OGP.