Report of the Second One-Day CSO Workshop on Supporting Beneficial Ownership Transparency Champions in Nigeria

Report of the Second One-Day CSO Workshop on Supporting Beneficial Ownership Transparency Champions in Nigeria

REPORT OF A ONE-DAY CSOS WORKSHOP ON SUPPORTING BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP TRANSPARENCY CHAMPIONS IN NIGERIA. ORGANIZED BY CIVIL SOCIETY LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY CENTRE (CISLAC) VENUE:  BOLTON WHITE HOTEL, ABUJA. DATE: 28TH JUNE 2017

 

Introduction

Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), with support from Transparency International (TI) and Department for International Development (DFID) on 28th June 2017 held the second Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) workshop on Supporting Beneficial Ownership Transparency Champions in Abuja.  The workshop was a follow up on an introductory one which held in April. It sought to deepen CSO’s knowledge of the concept of Beneficial Ownership. Explore its current Legal Framework and have CSO’s advance ways that Beneficial Ownership (BO) can be all-inclusively embedded in their work at the organizational level.

 

Opening Remarks 

Mr Kolawole Banwo, a senior programme officer and member of CISLAC management team gave the opening remarks. He welcomed participants from the Salah holiday and acknowledged that the attendance was impressive, given the short time in which they were notified of the meeting. He commended the CSOs’ availability and depended-ability regarding issues of national development and recognized the presence of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Secretariat represented by Mrs Cynthia Ojukwu.

He went on to say that the importance of the workshop is in the issues it seeks to explore; issues relating to Transparency and National Pride, which he opined speaks directly to our commitment as a nation to fulfil our promises on the international scene.

Concluding, he said that the OGP process is one which the country has led and is a step ahead of other countries in the region, and the conversation is to help CSOs become champions in their engagements.

He implored participants to lay their points in an orderly, informed, and articulate manner so that the action points can be concisely captured to determine the next line of action going forward.

He thanked participants and wished them happy deliberations.

 

Project synopsis, Objectives / Implementation Design

Lovely Agbor, the project Lead Officer spoke on the objectives of the second CSO Workshop.

She stated that the necessity of a second workshop arose from the findings of the first workshop which revealed the need to deepen participants’ knowledge of Beneficial Ownership Disclosure, its Basic Concepts and especially, the Current Legal Framework in the country.

She concluded that the workshop would also explore ways in which CSOs can work towards having a collaborative advocacy on the BO discourse, bearing in mind the Nigerian situation.

 

Participants’ Expectations

Listed below were Participants’ expectations from the workshop.

  • To have more knowledge of the BO Concept to help in their effective engagement of stakeholders.
  • To understand modalities towards BO Governance.
  • To gain in-depth knowledge of BO & its Legal Framework to the end that they can streamline it in ongoing projects in their organizations.my work on taxation.
  • To have more knowledge on the role of CSOs and stakeholders in the BO Concept And know what information/design strategies they can use to engage stakeholders
  • To know the relationship between BO & Open Contracting and also have all the objectives of the workshop met at the end of the meeting.
  • To know/ understand the legal gaps / risks associated with replicating the BO law in the Nigerian context and its sectors and how BO affects host communities.

 

Presentation/Technical Sessions

Mrs Cynthia Ojukwu a representative of the Open Government Partnership OGP Secretariat, Abuja

made a presentation on Open Government Partnership Framework. Her presentation explored the beginning of the OGP discourse in the country, its milestones, and the Nigerian Action Plan. She explained that the Nigerian Action Plan was submitted and adopted at the OGP conference in France in December 2016, has a two year period and consists of 14 thematic areas.

Speaking on the progression of the OGP, she revealed that at the federal level, Nigeria has signed the CAMA Bill. At the state level, 10 states have shown interest in the OGP and have indicated their intention to join, while the secretariat on its part is assisting states to formulate their action plans.

Discussing further on the viability of OGP, she opined that OGP is achievable because a structure and framework already exists in Nigeria on which it can thrive.

In conclusion, she revealed that significant progress has been made on Open Government Partnership in the country and citizen engagement has already started in some states of the federation; i.e Kaduna state and will soon kick off in Kano state. Other states however, are still working with consultants to draft their action plans.

 

Question/ Reactions

Detailed below are questions and responses that emerged from the presentation.

  1. The National Action Plan is to run for two years, given our current pace and considering that we are already six (6) months in without any notable achievement, is achieving the goals in the plan feasible?

In response to the question, the facilitator acknowledged that the OGP secretariat is doing her best; however, both the government and the CSOs need to do more and some activities on the two year Action Plan would be rolled over.

 

  1. The Government part of the OGB needs to do more with the CSOs as government is not involving the civil society on her activities as should be. We would like to know how government activities on OGP are carried out and also demand that the citizens should be carried along
  2. The OGP Secretariat has been carrying CSOs along in spite of the funding challenges, for instance, we have been in communication with CISLAC and they have made a commitment to advocate and create awareness on the CAMA bill when it is passed. The advocacy desk of the OGP secretariat is also open and can be approached on any happenings.

 

  1. The process of the state government joining the OGP is cumbersome, it should be made easy and the states should be encouraged to join and not wait for them to come forward by themselves.

The presenter responded that the process of states joining the OGP is not cumbersome, meetings have been held with representatives of state governments on what the Action Plan is about and consultations have been made on ho\w advisers can be sent to the states to help them formulate their Action Plans.

  1. Some funders made commitments to fund the government OGP. Have those funds pulled through? Do we have budgetary allocation for OGP?

The OGP has not received funds from the donors yet and as for funding by government, the OGP had not develop an Action Plan as at the time of budget deliberations, however, the OGP Secretariat is working towards having an executive order on funding.

 

Dr Dauda Garuba led the second technical session titled: Beneficial Ownership Concepts and Current Beneficial Ownership Legal Frameworks in Nigeria. He gave an in-depth presentation in which he traced the emergence of the BO Concept in Nigeria to three part ways; The Nigerian Financial Intelligent Unit (NFIU), Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) & Anti-Money Laundering Prevention and Prohibition Bill (AMLPP). He said however that those part ways were not directly linked to a comprehensive approach on rule of practice on Beneficial Ownership. He mentioned also that BO is an ongoing process and discourse and should be viewed as a marathon and not a sprint. He added that CSOs will achieve more if they push forward the benefits of BO such as direct foreign investment, reputational management, and ease of doing business as an alternative to fighting the government on its implementation.

He closed his presentation by saying that the banking industry is central to the implementation of Beneficial Ownership; however, the sector is not being engaged exhaustively in the discourse. There is therefore need for CSOs to actively engage the industry on Beneficial Ownership as the sector is central to its implementation, which also buttress the need to harmonize diverse efforts on BO on a general platform and have inclusivity – inter government and multi stakeholder collaboration.

Questions/Responses

  1. BO comes under the anti-corruption plan and this also bothers on the illegal ways in which monies are moved, especially as it relates to the crypto currency phenomena, what is your take on this?

The banks are the fulcrum on which the issues of BO are going to be realized, they are central to the process, however, they are not being engaged as should be, the onus rests on the CSOs to begin to extend discussions and follow up with them on implementation of BO.

  1. Given the issue of the Crypto currency, how can this new method of moving money without -using the bank be resolved?

The country leadership needs to cut down on bureaucracy and be ahead and fast in formulating policies on evolving trends to keep up with crime and change. Instead of a reactive approach, government needs to be proactive in its dealings and policies on crime.

In conclusion, he said that it is paramount that government delegations on exchange visits should include members of the CSO community to have CSO perspectives on the BO discourse and the country also needs to work towards connecting the dots between countries to ensure that we are moving with the world on the BO concept.

 

Group Activities

Following the technical sessions, three (3) groups were formed and mandated to come up with strategies / suggestions for the CSO engagement Plan, suggest specific action plans and organizations commitment and select two members each to constitute a Contact Team.

 

Outcome of Group Activities/ Commitments

 

S/N Organization Activity/Commitment   Nomination to be in the Contact Team

 

1 Centre LSD · Mobilize support through outreach programme PPDC

CENTRE LSD

 

Ogechi Akwaraonwu

Botti Isaac

Mr Tunde Salman

Tijani Abdukareem

Akin Rowland

Lovelyn Agbor

2 SOTU

 

· Sensitization campaigns to the locals to fully understand the concept of BO and OGP and advocacy to relevant state agencies
3 Keen and Care Initiative · Disseminate information through local languages in the grass roots.

 

  PPDC · Engage citizens through radio programmes

· Upload draft of AMLPP Act for the public to be informed

  BUDGiT · Use twitter to disseminate information to the public.

 

  PWYPAY-/ 21STC/ CITAD/ Social Action/ CBIGS/ CODE · Create awareness on the SM/Radio/ TV on BO

· Work with Social Action on next steps

  21st C · Enlightening constituents on the need to push the idea to the national assembly members

 

  Social Action & CODE · Engagement with NASS on CAMA, analyze and share the CAMA Act and initiate a campaign in that regard.

 

 

  ANEEJ · Already working on developing a data registry that captures owners of choice properties in Abuja and other major cities in Nigeria. Analyze the AMLPP AND CAMA Acts
  SERDEC- · working on OGP will use the platform to raise awareness on the National Action Plan  on the issues of BO in the anticorruption commitment
  CAPP · Mobilize civil society members working on procurement and MDAs to mainstream BO into procurement process and contract awards.

· Share draft of AMLPP &CAMA with organizations network for other CSO’s  inputs

 

  ZCC · Will use its membership platform to create awareness on the linkage between BO and the anti- corruption issues.
  CISLAC · Will lead  and help push the advocacy process

 

 

CONCLUSION/CLOSURE

Mr Kolawole Banwo gave the closing remarks. He raised the following key points.

  • Beneficial Ownership (BO) has been included in the EITI process globally and EITI has informed member countries to develop a road map for implementation of BO.
  • Nigeria has developed her road map for implementation of BO and is set for implementation by 2019 and CSOs are following to ensure its implementation in the said year.
  • NEITI on her part did a pilot study in other countries on BO and all companies in the extractive sector in the country are required to include BO in the audit template to be filled and signed by the highest company board members.
  • Challenges have become more apparent as mapping of stakeholders have been done.
  • A CSOs’ group on those working on BO, called the Open Alliance has been formed. It is open to all CSOs engaging in the BO process/ discourse. It aims to be more involved in the OGP Alliance, engage government, and educate CSOs and support to make OGP work.

To end with, he raised concerns regarding the marginalization of CSO on issues relating to BO, stating that the CSO space is not given its due consideration, its independence is tinkered with and its terrain is been freeze out.

 

He appealed that CSOs voices should be respected and recommendations should be implemented as suggested and not tweaked or altered.

 

He concluded that the there is need to get the OGP process right as CSOs are willing to comply with the government to ensure its success in the country. However, the government should also note that the OGP discourse cannot be achieved by using the one driver approach as both CSOs and the governments are co-pilots on the OGP process.

He thanked participants for their attention and participation.

The participants expressed appreciation to CISLAC for convening the workshop and noted that the engagement was revealing and indeed an opportunity to begin to create bigger conversations amongst players on Beneficial Ownership.

 

 

Share this post