Lagos, Friday, June 26, 2015: Media Rights Agenda (MRA) today called on President Muhammadu Buhari to assert Nigeria’s leadership on the African continent by taking urgent steps to secure its membership of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) ahead of his scheduled meeting with United States President Barack Obama in Washington D.C. on July 20, 2015.
In a statement in Lagos, MRA noted that the issue of Nigeria’s failure to join the OGP, a signature initiative of President Obama, would most likely come up during President Buhari’s meeting with the United States President at the White House, adding that the Nigerian leader would be saving himself and the country the embarrassment of having to find excuses for why Africa’s largest democracy and economy is not a member of the international multi-stakeholder initiative focused on improving government transparency, accountability and responsiveness to citizens.
Besides, MRA said, by taking Nigeria into the OGP, President Buhari would be making a firm commitment to promote open government in Nigeria, which would be consistent with the message of “change” that underpinned his electioneering campaign and which his Administration is widely believed to represent.
The organization argued that the chances of success of President Buhari’s quest for international support and assistance in resolving Nigeria’s multi-faceted challenges would be greatly enhanced by the country’s membership of the OGP, signaling that his Administration is moving in tandem with the global demand for more openness in government, greater civic participation in public affairs and more responsive and effective governance.
MRA’s Executive Director, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, said: “There is a lot of correlation between elements of President Buhari’s campaign pledges outlined in ‘My Covenant with Nigerians’ and the open government agenda of the OGP, including public declaration of assets, an effective freedom of information regime, strong anti-corruption measures, transparency in revenues from the extractive sector, the reform of the public procurement system and entrenchment of open contracting, among others. The OGP would provide a viable framework for the delivery of these commitments.”
Mr. Ojo added that “with eight African countries, namely South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Tunisia already members of the OGP and currently implementing ambitious commitments to improve governance, it does us no credit that a regional power like Nigeria, which should be taking the lead in such an initiative, has decided to sit it out. Nigeria must move quickly to assume its rightful place.”
The OGP is a high profile global initiative launched on September 20, 2011 to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. Since the launch of the OGP in 2011, its membership has grown from the founding eight countries to the current 65, with Mexico and South Africa co-chairing it.