President Muhammadu Buhari has said that he assented to the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2020 to enhance transparency and corporate accountability in the fight against corruption in the country.
In a video message he presented at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) 2020 Virtual Leaders’ Summit on the sidelines of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA-75) in New York, United States, yesterday, Buhari said that since he assumed office in 2015, he has demonstrated enough commitment to the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
The president in a statement issued on the event by his special adviser on media, Femi Adesina, said: ”Since the inception of our administration in 2015, the government has been committed to changing international and domestic perceptions regarding Nigeria’s commitment to fight corruption and foster good governance.
”We focused on the task of dealing head- on with this destructive monster, which led to us joining the Open Government Partnership and making reform commitments such as to establish a public central register of beneficial owners of corporate entities.
”Since then, we have made significant progress in implementing tougher anti- corruption measures, including my recent assent to the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020.
”The Act provides a legal framework for the implementation of Beneficial Ownership Information Disclosure in Nigeria. Being an OGP member-country has helped Nigeria learn from other countries tackling similar challenges, and to build a coalition to support these reforms across the private sector and civil society. It has also aided our journey towards building citizens’ trust in government,” he stated.
According to him, ”these consultations are in line with the effort of our administration to encourage public participation in government policies and programmes. Our recovery package includes support to businesses, to vulnerable communities and an expansion of public works. Our aim is to make all these efforts more effective by making them open. ”
President Buhari recounted that soon after joining the partnership, Nigeria had the privilege of being elected to the OGP Global Steering Committee.
As a leader in the OGP Steering Committee, President Buhari acknowledged that Nigeria has learnt from both government and non-government counterparts on international best practices.
”I am also glad that Nigeria’s pioneering sub-national Open Government Partnership Model has become one of the leading examples driving the expansion of the Open Government Partnership Local Programme.
”Nigeria will also champion the tenets of the Open Government Partnership through our leadership role in regional institutions. We aim to expand the partnership on the African continent by continuing to play a leading role in the International Steering Committee.
”As we look forward to celebrating 10 years of the existence of the Open Government Partnership next year, it is my earnest wish that all countries in the world will adopt Open Government principles and help democracy live up to the expectations of citizens having a voice at and beyond the ballot box, ” he said.
President Buhari thanked the leadership and staff of the OGP Global Support Unit for the enormous work they do to ensure that voices are not only heard but valued.
He encouraged Nigerians to get involved in the OGP and help shape and sustain the country’s democracy now and in the future.
Among those who participated in the virtual event were Heads of State and Government of Argentina, Canada, France, Georgia and Germany as well as civil society leaders who have played a central role in their countries to ensure a full, fair, and inclusive response and recovery.
On the increasing cases of COVID-19 worldwide, President Buhari told the summit that it had become clear that governments cannot solve all the challenges of the pandemic alone, stressing it is only through open governance and working with citizens that nations can succeed.
”We face a significant contraction in the global economy in 2020; the world is facing the unprecedented twin challenges of managing the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. In these times, citizens worldwide are seeking more information, engagement, and support from their governments,” he said.
The Nigerian leader pledged that his administration would continue to use its OGP membership to ensure that open government approaches strengthen the pandemic management, adding that the federal government will sustain consultations and engagements with citizens through Civil Society Organisations and the Organised Private Sector on COVID-19 response and recovery plan.
Current International Mechanism For Asset Recovery Weak, President Declares
There is a compelling need to strengthen international cooperation in the global effort to curtail the menace of Illicit financial flows as current international mechanisms are not strong enough to address the menace, according to President Buhari.
This was stated in a speech delivered on his behalf by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Thursday, at the Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI) Panel Video Conference, organised on the sidelines of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
According to a statement issued by his spokesman, Laolu Akande , the session also featured presentations of the immediate past President of the United Nations General Assembly, Prof. Tijjani Muhammad- Bande and Ambassador Mona Jul of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
According to the President, “the current international mechanisms for asset recovery are not good enough as can be seen in the amounts lost to illicit financial flows and the length of time taken before the repatriation of just a small fraction is made.
The FACTI Panel report can play an important role in bridging the expectations of source and destination countries as well as in harmonising the process of assets recovery and return.”
Speaking on the approach to promote equity and help achieve economic growth, President Buhari said “we agree with the Panel on the importance of having a balanced approach that reflects the situation in different regions and the priorities of different stakeholders.”
… Pledges Support For Peace, Stability In Guinea Bissau
Meanwhile, President Buhari has pledged that Nigeria would continue to assist Guinea Bissau in any way possible, saying that ‘‘a peaceful and prosperous Guinea Bissau is a win for West Africa and for Africa.’’
According to a statement issued by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, the President joined the Heads of State and Government of Senegal, Mauritania and Burkina Faso to celebrate the 47th independence anniversary of Guinea Bissau at the 24 de Setembro National Stadium, Bissau.
Buhari said that he was proud of the support Nigeria provided to past electoral processes in the West African country’s commendable efforts to entrench democracy.
‘‘This support can only be increased under my tenure,’’ he said.
The President also placed on record Nigeria’s contribution of troops under the auspices of ECOWAS Mission in Guinea Bissau (ECOMIB), noting that they played an important role in maintaining peace and security.
While congratulating President Umaro Sissocco Embalo, the government and people of Guinea Bissau on the 47th Independence anniversary, the Nigerian leader said that it was his sincere hope and prayer that Guinea Bissau and her people would continue to grow in strength and prosperity.
He also expressed good wishes for greater achievements in the years ahead for the country.
Presidency Urges British Lawmakers To Visit Nigeria Over Herders/Farmers’ Clashes
In another development, the presidency has said President Buhari and the government of Nigeria welcome the seriousness of the letter from United Kingdom (UK) lawmakers, legal experts and campaigners on the happenings in the country.
Some members of the House of Lords, the British upper legislative chamber, had expressed concerns over the persistence
of insurgency and farmer/herder crises in Nigeria.
The lawmakers, in a letter dated September 14, 2020 and addressed to Patricia Scotland, secretary-general of the Commonwealth, said that the failure of the federal government to protect Nigerians was a breach of its obligations under the Commonwealth Charter.
In the statement issued by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, the presidency said that the administration welcomes the attention paid to the serious challenge by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group and seek to “work with you, the Commonwealth and all concerned parties to bring a lasting solution to herder- farmer clashes, and the threat posed to all Nigerians – and the Sahel region as a whole – from Boko Haram terrorists and their allies.
Shehu said that the government asked the British colleagues to visit Nigeria, whether formally or informally to discuss all the points raised in their letter.
He said: “Our government is made equally of Christian and Muslim cabinet members; our Vice President is an evangelical pastor. We have everything to gain as a country through international cooperation with concerned, senior British parliamentarians and policymakers.
“The threat to civilians and peaceful co- existence between different ethnic and religious groups from Boko Haram, banditry and land disputes is of serious concern to the President and the government. It is incorrect, however, to assert that the government has or is doing nothing to address these intertwined threats.
“First, there are ongoing efforts for the establishment of cattle ranches to prevent or curtail open grazing, the practice that brings herders and farmers into conflict. This is an age-old problem facing Nigerian governments since the colonial days. However, matters of land distribution are dealt with at state level.
“This means willingness has to be shown by state governors to drive the process forward. The federal government launched a plan last year to work with states to address these issues – together. Unfortunately, this has been lacking in some states,” he said.