As published on vanguardngr.com, Monday 17 May, 2021.
The Federal government says over 70 per cent of corruption cases in the country are perpetrated by persons who use anonymous companies.
It however, disclosed that over $1 billion had so far been recovered by governments using beneficial ownership data.
The minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo disclosed this on Monday in Abuja at the media presentation of Nigeria’s Road to Beneficial Ownership Transparency at the 2021 Open Government Partnership (OGP) Week, with the theme: ‘Re-engineering Government, Institutions and Society for Transparency, Accountability and Inclusive Citizens Participation”.
The Minister assured that when the register of companies was completed, it would help government in decision-making, especially around awards of contracts, permit and licences.
“It will help decision makers to quickly determine who benefits from the operations and profits of the company so as to avoid conflict of interest or manipulation,” he added.
The Minister, who was represented by the permanent secretary, Dr Nasir Sani Gwarzo, m further disclosed that the journey to establish a public register of beneficial owners commenced in 2016 at the London Summit on Anti-Corruption where President Muhammadu Buhari joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP).
“At the time of this declaration in 2016, there was no legal framework to commence the implementation of the beneficial ownership disclosure in Nigeria. This necessitated the amendment of Companies and Allied Matters Act which the president signed in August 2020 paving way for the commencement of implementation of disclosure principles.
“The Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020 has provisions dealing with disclosure of persons with significant control (PSC) who have at least five per cent of voting equity holding or voting rights and who are ultimate beneficial owners of such registered entities to disclose such interest,” he added.
In his own remarks, Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, informed that the Global Support Unit of the Open Government Partnership through the Multi-Donor Trust Fund awarded a grant of $400,000 to Nigeria.
“This grant is managed by the World Bank and we are at the final stages of documentation for the release of this grant,” Agba said.
The minister further noted that the OGP Multi-Donor Trust Fund Open Government Partnership with the support of development partners and working together with World Bank, established the OGP Multi-Donor Trust Fund (or the MDTF) to support “World Bank client countries and local entities that participate in OGP or intend to become eligible to participate in OGP.”
“With the support of French Development Agency, the Government of Canada, and the United Kingdom’ Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, the MDTF provides awards on a competitive basis to national and local participants with a multi stakeholder forum and to partners who will support the learning and building of evidence of impact of OGP commitments,” he stated.
He explained that the theme of this year’s Open Government week “focuses on how we renew or build again governments, institutions and societies that are transparent, accountable participatory and inclusive.”
Presenting the keynote address, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, noted that with Nigeria as a leader in the Open Government Partnership, “it is clear that the rest of the world is looking with keen interest at the process we employ in the development of this register and this presents us with the opportunity to share lessons from the process thus far with other countries.”
The SGF however, said there was still enormous work to be done on this Road to Nigeria’s Beneficial Ownership Transparency, adding that the Registrar General of the Corporate Affairs Commission “will provide further details about what has been done so far and what lies ahead.”