President Muhammadu Buhari has said the controversial Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020 (CAMA) was enacted to make the anti-corruption campaign stronger, enhance transparency and corporate accountability.
President Buhari gave the clarification Thursday in a video message to the Open Government Partnership (OGP) 2020 Virtual Leaders’ Summit on the sidelines of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA75) in New York, United States.
The CAMA law had attracted a lot of criticism from various quarters, including the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) over some particular provisions of the Act.
The critics specifically said the law was targeted at some organisations to take over their activities.
Dismissing the fear in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, the president noted the administration’s stride in anti-corruption fight, which he said would further aid the government’s effort in that regard.
He 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.”
On COVID-19, President Buhari said it was clear governments alone cannot solve all the challenges of the pandemic, adding 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,” Buhari further said.
He further pledged his administration resolve to continue using its OGP membership to ensure open government approaches in strengthening the pandemic management.
The president said the Nigerian government would sustain consultations and engagements with citizens through Civil Society Organisations and the Organised Private Sector on COVID-19 response and recovery plan.
“These consultations are in line with the effort of our administration to encourage public participation in government policies and programs. 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,” Buhari said.
He recalled that shortly after joining this partnership; Nigeria had the privilege of being elected to the OGP Global Steering Committee, acknowledging that the nation had learnt from both government and non-government counterparts on international best practices.
The president stated: “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.”
While thanking the leadership and staff of the OGP Global Support Unit for their effort at ensuring voices were not only heard but valued, the Nigerian leader encouraged Nigerians to get involved in the OGP and help shape and sustain the country’s democracy now and in the future.
The virtual meeting had in attendance Heads of State and Government of Argentina, Canada, France, Georgia and Germany as well as civil society leaders who played a central role in their countries to ensure a full, fair, and inclusive response and recovery.
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