Nigeria has been named a winner of the 2021 Open Government Partnership (OGP) Impact Award for Africa and the Middle East Region for the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITIimplementation )’s of Beneficial Ownership Transparency (B.O.T.) in the extractive sector and broader Beneficial Ownership Transparency by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in the OGP National Action Plan (NAP).

It will be recalled that the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, directed the Nigeria OGP Secretariat to prepare and submit Nigeria’s entry for the 2021 OGP Impact Award in order to highlight Nigeria’s efforts to promote transparency in the extractive industry and on a larger scale in the corporate space, including the establishment of a public register of beneficial owners of corporate entities.

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“Opacity in Nigeria’s extractives sector has decimated communities, destroyed lives, and led to the rise of militancy in oil-producing regions,” the OGP Global Support Unit said in announcing Nigeria as a winner. To improve corporate accountability and transparency, 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. It will allow government officials to track the proceeds of corruption and redirect the funds for the benefit of the country.”

The Co-chairs of the Nigeria OGP National Steering Committee, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, and Dr Tayo Aduloju, spoke on behalf of the Nigeria OGP National Steering Committee and 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,” said Prince Clem Agba, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning. Beneficial Ownership Transparency through the public register of beneficial owners, he continued, can help disrupt the opacity on which criminals rely to perpetrate financial crimes by making Beneficial Ownership information available to authorities, businesses, and the general public. Information about beneficial owners of companies and entities will be made available to financial and regulatory authorities, as well as the general public, through a public register of Beneficial Owners.

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The person who ultimately owns or controls an asset is referred to as a beneficial owner (for example, a property or a company). I’d like to express my gratitude to President Buhari for his political leadership, which has enabled NEITI and CAC to pursue this commitment aggressively. Mr. President signed the CAMA law, which now gives legal support to this critical initiative.”

“The OGP impact award reflects what is possible when we mobilize the collective capacity of society to solve our most formidable challenges,” said Dr Tayo Aduloju, Chief Operations Officer of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) and Non-State Actor Co-Chair. The OGP Beneficial Ownership initiative has led us on a national reform journey in which civil society, the private sector, and government have come together to form a common ground for action. The comprehensive legal framework for not just open government, but open private sector has been established with the passage of the two landmark acts, CAMA 2020 and PIA 2020, and 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 begun in Nigeria. He expressed gratitude to the OGP Global Community for recognizing the significant milestone and supporting Nigeria throughout the process.”

“Nigeria is among nine of the global EITI implementing countries of the Opening Extractives initiative,” said Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI). The award is impressive and encouraging, especially given the government’s political will and vast resources to reposition the extractive industry to benefit all Nigerians. I’d like to express my gratitude to the OGP National Steering Committee, sister agencies, particularly CAC, as well as civil society organizations and donors for their help. Nigeria’s path to beneficial ownership transparency followed a pattern. NEITI created a Beneficial Ownership Register for extractive industries companies in December 2019, making it the first in Africa to do so. Nigeria passed the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) in 2021, which included extensive provisions for beneficial ownership disclosures. Nigeria is also one of nine countries participating in the global EITI initiative. When Beneficial Ownership is fully integrated into Nigeria’s governance culture, public trust, citizen confidence, and revenue growth will all increase.”

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In a similar vein, Alhaji Garba Abubakar, the Registrar General of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), outlined the next stage of BOT implementation, saying, “The Corporate Affairs Commission is designed to be a part of history as Nigeria celebrates the award.” The President signed the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020 into law, which establishes a legal framework for Beneficial Ownership Information Disclosure in Nigeria. The second phase of deployment will focus on ensuring compliance with global standards, with a focus on collecting, storing, publishing, and sharing high-quality Beneficial Ownership Data among implementing countries.”

The Open Government Partnership, a multilateral and multinational initiative aimed at promoting government transparency, participation, and collaboration, honors open government reformers around the world and recognizes the impact of their work on governance. “This award is a testament to President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption commitments made at the London Anti-Corruption Summit in May 2016.”

The Federal Government’s commitment to the implementation of Open Government Partnership principles, the World Bank’s support, Open Ownership, the commitment of the Corporate Affairs Commission, NEITI, and other relevant stakeholders have all contributed to Nigeria’s Beneficial Ownership milestone.

As part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to Open Government Partnership, NEITI led the Extractive Industries Thematic Group that implemented Beneficial Ownership disclosures in the extractive sector. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the defunct Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and Civil Society Actors collaborated with NEITI.

Nigeria has produced 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 since joining the Open Government Partnership in 2016. In 2019, Nigeria took the first steps toward Beneficial Ownership Transparency by releasing a roadmap that was incorporated into the national development plan to guide adoption and implementation.

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Nigeria’s Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) was passed in 2020, making it mandatory to disclose persons with significant control of companies in a beneficial ownership register in order to improve corporate accountability and transparency. The CAMA Act 2020 enables public authorities to track and redirect the proceeds of corruption for national benefit. The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) is authorized by the CAMA Act to create an open register and collect information on beneficial owners.

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