Nigeria: President elect promises change in first 100 days

Nigeria: President elect promises change in first 100 days

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Photo: Clara Sanchiz/RNW http://bit.ly/1HPu1Jk

Photo: Clara Sanchiz/RNW http://bit.ly/1HPu1Jk

“If Nigeria does not kill corruption; corruption will kill Nigeria”: a bold statement made by the President elect in his first formal message after winning an election.

Fulfilling his pledges in the first 100 days will boost Nigeria’s domestic resource mobilisation and reduce dependence on foreign aid, rebuild citizen’s confidence in governance structures as well as give citizens power to hold government accountable.

Buhari has a reputation of being firm; a track record of stepping to the plate. It is yet to be seen if his pledges will amount to action at a time when Nigeria is the third largest recipient of foreign aid in health, and ninth in governance and security, which is unexpected of the largest economy in Africa losing about 300,000 barrels of oil per day to corruption.

Here’s what he committed to:

Publicly declare my assets and liabilities and encourage my political appointees to also publicly declare their assets and liabilities.

This asset declaration is a step towards ensuring leaders do not abuse their power for personal gain. The Nigerian constitution explicitly calls for all public officials to declare their assets within three months of taking office.

President Goodluck Jonathan and his government refused to follow this principle. But Buhari’s commitment, if delivered, will build a culture of integrity by establishing standards of acceptable behaviour and providing clear rules and guidance on ethical conduct in public office by providing a valuable source of information for detecting abuse of power and corruption.

Review and implement audit recommendations by Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).

Oil and gas exports account for close to 80% of the Nigerian revenue, making it an important sector in the country. The pledge comes at a time when NEITI released the 2012 report titled “Financial, Physical and Process Audit: An Independent Report Assessing and Reconciling Financial, Physical and Process Flows within Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Industry – 2012”.

The report unveils that in 2012, Nigeria had USD 47 million unresolved difference with respect to all the Financial Flows covered by the audit. Fulfilment of this commitment is a step towards enabling the oil and gas industry in Nigeria to function in a transparent and accountable manner. Between 2009 and 2011 at least $23.2 billion of oil income wasn’t deposited into the national accounts, so we need more than a voluntary initiative. A mandatory requirement for oil, gas and mining firms to disclose what they pay to governments, companies would go a lot further.

The President-Elect and his government should revisit the Petroleum Industry Bill to ensure that it directly and effectively deals with the problems affecting the sector as well as passing it into law.

Encourage proactive disclosure of information by government institutions in the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act.

Governments, citizens, and the private sector all benefit from access to information such as open contracting, beneficial ownership disclosure and project by project payment disclosure. Citizens will better understand the sector and access and monitor obligations of governments and companies, knowing who to hold to account for what and knowing what payments should be made.

In the past, contracting and licensing have suffered from deep abuses of secrecy and discretion. Irregularities marred all major bid rounds held in the 2000s, bringing about lawsuits, indictments, sackings, cancelled or revoked awards, and legislative probes.

Making extractive information transparent and open will result in competitive bidding processes, attract wider business opportunities, capacity development, professionalism, efficiency and huge diverse foreign direct investments into the Nigerian economy in general and the extractive industry in particular.

We need the Nigerian Government to put in place new regulations for the public disclosure of contracts and beneficial ownership to prevent future abuses

Present a national anti-corruption strategy.

The goal of an anti-corruption strategy is to contribute to progressive and consistent reduction of corruption, strengthen integrity and build citizens trust in public institutions. With prominent cases looming the country such as Former president Sani Abacha estimated to have siphoned off more than $1.1 billion, this strategy is desperately needed.

Coming up with a national strategy will ensure that governance structures change their institutional anti-corruption culture and attitude towards more result-oriented approach. This will require pro-active engagement from all public institutions, other independent bodies, and civil society.

ONE welcomes these bold and important pledges as they bring changes that could transform the way resources are managed in Africa’s biggest economy.

We will follow progress closely- WE ARE WATCHING. Look out for more throughout the year!

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