The Open Government Partnership (OGP) Global Support Unit 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).
In 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 the chief executive officer of the Public Private Development Centre (PPDC), Nkem Ilo, welcomed the recognition of Nigeria’s progress while acknowledging the long road ahead.
“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. By making beneficial ownership information available to authorities, businesses and the public, BOT, 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. The president signed the CAMA law that now provides legal backing for this very important initiative,” he said.
Speaking on the award, the executive secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, said Nigeria remains one of nine 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 global EITI-implementing countries of the initiative. When beneficial ownership is fully mainstreamed into Nigeria’s governance culture, there will be public trust, citizens’ confidence and increased revenue growth,” he added.
In a similar vein, the registrar-general of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Alhaji Garba Abubakar, outlined the next phase of the implementation of BOT.
“The CAC is designed to be a part of history as Nigeria celebrates the award. This has been made possible by the president’s signing into law the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020, 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,” Abubakar said.
The Open Government Partnership, a multi-lateral and multi-national 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 CAC, NEITI and other relevant stakeholders.