By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA – The Secretariat of the Open Government Partnership, OGP, has denied insinuations that it lacked transparency and accountability in the management of its funds.
It said the perceived ambivalence about its financial operations was a result of the gaps in stakeholder engagement especially among some key members of the National Steering Committee.
At the 4th meeting of the committee in Abuja on Tuesday, co-Chair of the Nigeria’s OGP initiative, Chief Edetaen Ojo, had criticized the management of funding for the operations of the partnership in the country.
However, a highly placed source at the OGP Secretariat told Vanguard that Ojo’s “ironic remarks” were false and misleading.
He said though the partnership does not have a bank account yet for carrying out its transactions, it had no blemish in the management of all its resources.
The source explained that since its inception in March 2017, funding for driving the OGP initiative in the country came from donor agencies and development partners with little or no input from government.
He said this was because the open government partnership was yet to get the necessary legal instruments (either legislative statute or executive order) necessary to access funds from the federation account.
The source further said that the donor agencies paid directly for goods and services needed for OGP programmes organised to push the initiative across board and also kept records of their financial commitments. Hence, there was no question of lack of accountability and transparency.
He added that Ojo’s suspicions may have stemmed from his background as an activist whose relationship with the government could have been marred by mutual distrust.
The source said: “Yes, it is true the OGP National Steering Committee does not have a bank account. But that does not diminish the giants strides the government has made in fighting corruption and opening up the system.
“When Nigeria signed onto the global OGP initiative in 2017, the budget had already been sent to the National Assembly and OGP activities were not captured therein. By the time the 2018 budget was prepared, we were yet to the legal frameworks for the initiatives were yet to be concluded.
“But the OGP Secretariat had done tremendously well in spite of lack of financing from the country’s budget. We have gone ahead to source for fund from development partners to our programmes and projects, and we are grateful for their support.
“We must note, donor agencies and development partners don’t give us cash because we don’t even have a bank account yet and they can’t pay to personal bank accounts. So, they pay directly to the vendors of the goods and services we require for our programmes and projects. So, there cannot be any question of lack of financial transparency at the OGP Secretariat or within its National Steering Committee as insinuated.
“I bet you, both the government and the non-state actors in the OGP all want openness and transparency in government business. However, we must learn to engage effectively in a partnership mode.”