By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA – The Special Adviser to President Buhari on Justice Sector Reforms, Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu, has called on Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) that are committed to the advancement of the principles of open government in the country to advise government on the best ways to meet the needs of the people.
To this end, she urged them to increase their participation in public procurement processes and also ensure active engagement of citizens in the budget process.
Ibekaku-Nwagwu made the call in Abuja at a reflection session with CSOs and media groups on the implementation of Open Government Partnership (OGP) commitments.
According to her, “One of the greatest challenges we have in this country is ensuring that the public procurement process actually lives up to the expectation of the Nigerian people.
“We need to be asking ourselves whether the open government platform is helping us to surmount that challenge through greater participation of the private sector and the citizens. If not, what do we do to make that happen?
“This is where the CSOs need to step in, and not only come up with solutions but advise the government on how best to tailor public procurement and budgeting to the needs of the people,” she said
The Presidential aide noted that the greater participation of non-state actors in the public procurement and budgeting processes will help foster openness in the conduct of government businesses and reduce the spate of corruption and looting of public funds.
She added: “even though the Buhari-led administration has made much progress towards enhancing transparency especially in the extractive sector, a lot remained to be done to secure the commitment and cooperation of stakeholders in the sector.”
Ibekaku-Nwagwu, who doubles as the National Coordinator of OGP, further admonished CSOs to join the debate to strengthen Nigeria’s asset recovery legislation, saying “Lack of stolen asset management law hamper efforts to repatriate identified stolen assets from foreign countries. All stakeholders including CSOs need to join the debate and fully participate in ensuring that both chambers of the National Assembly pass the Proceeds of Crime Bill to ensure transparent management of recovered assets.”