By Angela Atabo
Abuja ,May 21,2022 Cooperate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) have advocated sustainable implementation of Beneficial Ownership Disclosure regime to help in tackling corruption, especially in the extractive sector.
They made the call at the Accountability in Extractive Sector (AES) Cluster learning led by CISLAC, the national chapter of Transparency International in Nigeria within the framework of the Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) project .
Naija247news reports that the learning was organised as part of events to make the 2022 Open Government Partnership (OGP) week in Abuja in collaboration with several CSOs across the country.
Executive Director CISLAC, Mr Auwal Rafsanjani, represented by Mr Bassey Chinedu ,Programme Manager CISLAC, said that there was a known deficit fact within the extractive sector that literally deprived the nation of the benefits the sector had to offer.
Rafsanjani said that the extractive sector in Nigeria suffered from corruption resulting from lack of transparency and accountability in governance.
He added that so far, the reforms made to address corruption in the extractive sector had fallen short of desired goals.
He said that year in year out the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative rolled out heart breaking figures on unremitted and unaccounted funds that could have been channeled into meaningful development for the good of the citizens.
“So far, there has been little or no impact on the lives of the citizens and relevant stakeholders have not been able to effectively engage and communicate in a manner that will mobilize citizens to exert the necessary pressure, demanding accountability from the government.
“It is our belief that the efficient and effective management of extractive sector resources will reduce poverty and inequality in Nigeria.
“The cluster is therefore committed to include strengthening the capacity of Extractive cluster members and other stakeholders to undertake sector specific advocacy.
“Also, advocating for a sustainable implementation of Beneficial Ownership Disclosure regime and Contract Transparency legislative/policy framework for the management of the extractive sector.
“It includes advocating for budgetary allocation for the implementation of the open Beneficial ownership register in Nigeria; increasing awareness on the sector governance among citizens including youths for transparency and accountability in the extractive sector.”
Rafsanjani said that the benefits and efforts in the effective implementation of Beneficial Ownership transparency in the extractive sector was a critical component of the government’s commitment to the OGP initiative in Nigeria.
This, he said, was towards advancing accountability and improving domestic resource mobilization for sustainable development financing.
“It is noteworthy to mention that the May 16, marks the start of this year’s Open Government Partnership (OGP) week when President Muhammadu Buhari signed unto the OGP.
“This event is thus a very good opportunity to remind us the tenets of OGP which we signed up as a country, a mission to acknowledge all the doers, thinkers, creators and reformers who have successfully opened governments around the world.”
The Special Assistant to the Registrar-General of CAC, Terver Ayua-Jor, said that Nigeria had achieved some milestone that could not be over looked from.2016 when the nation signed unto the OGP commitment .
Ayua-jor said that Nigeria now had a legal framework with CAC leading the implementation of Beneficial Ownership disclosure and had started collecting information on beneficial ownership.
“When the law was signed, we proactively engaged our vendors to upgrade our registration portal which captured information in beneficial ownership disclosure and it mandatory for all registered entities to provide that information now, that is the first phase.
“We are moving towards displaying the second phase now and it captures all the critical elements of a global register which will involve integrating with implementing countries, authorised persons, law enforcement agencies and relevant MDAs.
“As we speak now, information on beneficial ownership is available for entities required from January 2021 ,the information is there but you can only view it when the second phase of the deployment is achieved when you can view ,download and even share .
“We have gone ahead to draft regulations that will to some extent throw more light on the disclosure principles, we have exposed the draft and we are working on the final draft copies that we will send to the minister to endorse .”
Ayua-jor said that the critical issues dealt with in that regulation was the issue of natural person to cover a wider interest so that there won’t be any opportunity for any interest to be left out .
“We have also taken on the issue of unique identifier for natural persons we have adopted the NIN as the unique identifier and the reason we did that was Nimce is a get angelic that host data on natural persons.
“So we feel, adopting that unique identifier, will achieve a lot because as we speak, BVN is linked to NIN and the entire identifier phone numbers are also linked to NIN.
“So we are hoping that before the year runs out, we will deploy the second component of the beneficial ownership register and we will engage elaborately with CSOs for their input.”