The Open Government Partnership (OGP) Global Support Unit has announced Nigeria as a winner of the 2021 OGP Impact Award for Africa and Middle East Region for Nigeria’s implementation of the Beneficial Ownership Transparency (B.O.T.) in the Extractive sector by the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and broader Beneficial Ownership Transparency by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in the OGP National Action Plan (NAP).
It would be recalled that the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, had directed the Nigeria OGP Secretariat to prepare and submit Nigeria’s entry for the 2021 OGP Impact Award to showcase Nigeria’s efforts to entrench transparency in the extractive industry and on the larger scale of the corporate space, with the establishment of a public register of beneficial owners of corporate entities.
Announcing Nigeria as a winner, the OGP Global Support Unit 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 behalf of the Nigeria OGP National Steering Committee, the Co-chairs – Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba and Dr Tayo Aduloju welcomed the recognition of Nigeria’s progress while acknowledging the long road ahead.
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem 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.
A beneficial owner refers to the person who ultimately owns or controls an asset (for example, a property or a company). I want to thank President Buhari for his political leadership that has allowed NEITI and CAC to aggressively implement this commitment. Mr President signed the CAMA law that now provides legal backing for this very important initiative.”
Adding to the development, the Chief Operations Officer of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) and Non-State Actor Co-Chair, Dr Tayo Aduloju said “The OGP impact award reflects what is possible when we mobilise the collective capacity of society to solve our most formidable challenges. The OGP Beneficial Ownership has taken us on a journey of national reform in which civil society, the private sector and government have built the consensus for action. With the passage of the two landmark acts; CAMA 2020 and the PIA 2020, the comprehensive legal framework for not just open government, but the open private sector has been established, and the achievement of significant compliance as envisaged by the OGP National Action Plan I and II for extractive industries transparency and broader corporate transparency for final beneficiary owners has commenced in Nigeria. He thanked the OGP Global Community for looking at the significant milestone and encouraging Nigeria through the process”.
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 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. I want to thank the OGP National Steering Committee, sister agencies especially CAC as well as Civil Society Organisations and donors for their support as well. Nigeria’s journey to beneficial ownership disclosure followed a trajectory. In December 2019, NEITI created a Beneficial Ownership Register for extractive industries companies and became the first in Africa to have such a register. In 2021, Nigeria enacted the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and made copious provisions for beneficial ownership disclosures. Nigeria is also among nine the global EITI implementing countries of the Opening Extractives initiative. When Beneficial Ownership is fully mainstreamed into Nigeria’s governance culture, there will be a 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 an emphasis on collection, storing, publishing and sharing quality Beneficial Ownership Data amongst implementing countries”
The Open Government Partnership, a multilateral and multinational initiative that seeks to promote transparency, participation and collaboration in government, celebrates the hard work of open government reformers worldwide and recognises the impact of their work in governance. “This award is a testament to the anti-corruption commitments made by President Muhammadu Buhari at the London Anti-Corruption Summit in May 2016”.
Nigeria’s milestone on Beneficial Ownership is a cumulation of the commitment of the Federal Government to the implementation of Open Government Partnership principles, the support from the World Bank, Open Ownership, the commitment of the Corporate Affairs Commission, NEITI and other relevant stakeholders.
NEITI led the Extractive Industries Thematic Group that implemented Beneficial Ownership disclosures in the extractive sector as part of President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s commitment to Open Government Partnership. NEITI worked with other agencies such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the defunct Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and Civil Society Actors.
Since Nigeria’s membership in the Open Government Partnership in 2016, the country has gone ahead to produce two National Action Plans between 2017 and 2021 with actionable commitments on improving fiscal transparency, enhancing extractive transparency, ensuring citizens’ access to information and increasing citizens’ engagement in policy formulation. Nigeria keyed into Beneficial Ownership Transparency in 2019 by first publishing a roadmap that was mainstreamed in the national development plan to guide adoption and implementation.
In 2020, Nigeria passed its Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) making it mandatory to disclose persons with significant control of companies in a register of beneficial owners to enhance corporate accountability and transparency. The CAMA Act 2020 enables public authorities to track the proceeds of corruption and redirect the resources for national benefit. The CAMA Act authorizes the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to establish an open register and collect information on beneficial owners.