Nigeria joined other African countries to commit to a more accountable, responsive and inclusive government at the just concluded summit of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in Ottawa, Canada.
At the 6th OGP Global Summit, nearly 2,000 reformers inside and out of government from 80 countries committed to defending the rights of assembly, association and speech and ensuring more inclusive policies and practices to open government. Ministers from more than 40 countries joined a number of civil society organisations including Transparency International, Oxfam, CARE, ICNL, and others in Ottawa May 29 to 31.
Nigerians at the summit were drawn from the Ministry of Justice officials, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the leading agency in terms of open governance in Nigeria, and civil society.
Under the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), Nigeria's Executive Secretary of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Adio Waziri Onibiyo, made presentations on the success story of the agency on behalf of Nigeria.
Other presentations from the APRM were made by Côte d'Ivoire's Minister of Commerce, Industry and SME Promotion, Souleymane Diarrassouba; Ghana's Minister of State at the office of the Senior Minister, Catherine Abelema Afeku; Sierra Leone's Minister of Information and Communication, Mohamed Rado Swaray, and Minister of Justice, Priscilla Schwartz; and South Africa's Executive Director for the Centre for Public Service Innovation Transparency International, Qinisile Delwa. There were also those from Transparency International, NRGI, UNDP, OECD and others.
Nigeria joined the OGP in 2016 after President Muhammadu Buhari committed to the partnership during the London Anti-Corruption Summit. A National Action Plan was shortly developed with 14 commitments covering four thematic areas: Fiscal Transparency, Anti-Corruption, Access to Information and Citizen Engagement.
According OGP's Senior Communications Officer, Jose Perez Escotto, senior Canadian officials attended the summit, including Canadian Ministers Joyce Murray, Krystia Freeland, Navdeep Bains, and Karina Gould, and all acknowledged the promise of technology to better engage citizens, but also pledged to protect declining civic space and work together to make on and offline connections more open, accountable and inclusive.
In his welcome remarks, Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, wished the over 2, 000 participants fruitful deliberation on the rising threats to democracy, misuse and mistrust of social media. Other issues include advancing gender inclusion to foster more responsive and open government.
The Chief Executive Officer of OGP, Sanjay Pradhan, called for focus on new open government approaches to tackle the many challenges facing democracies around the world.
"In the face of an unprecedented rise in authoritarianism, shrinking civic space and new digital threats to democracy from the spread of disinformation to violations of privacy, it is great to see reformers from government, civil society leaders, parliamentarians and other stakeholders come together to forge a countervailing force to reinvigorate democracy and give power back to the people," he said.
The President of the Treasury Board of Canada and Minister of Digital Government, Joyce Murray, also reiterated Canada's commitment to inclusion, digital governance, and civic participation.
"Canada is committed to accelerating open government at home and internationally as a means to strengthen our democratic accountability in this age of digital disruption. Open government is fundamentally a means of building trust in institutions through open dialogue with an informed public, encouraging widespread citizen participation in decision-making, and providing superior outcomes that include all citizens. We're honoured to host the summit in pursuit of these goals," Murray said.
Former president of Ireland and current Chair of the Elders, Mary Robinson, called for feminist solutions to the challenges of gender equality and inclusion initiatives. This was a prelude to the unveiling of 'Break the Roles' to encourage 30 percent of OGP members to take impactful action on inclusion in 2019. A new coalition of 22 members, including Oxfam and Open Contracting Partnership was announced to support the campaign.
"To move forward as a partnership, we need to acknowledge first that we often leave people by the sidelines. We need to promote the participation of women and marginalized communities in all aspects of government and civil society life. We must build the system that will let us thrive together", said Vice-Speaker of the Kyrgyz Parliament Aida Kasymalieva who announced the 'Break the Roles.'
For the first time in an open government partnership event, there were 52% more female speakers than men (47%). This is paired with an unprecedented amount of gender and inclusion focused sessions, from mainstreaming gender in open government processes to building a more inclusive policy-making process.
There was also a launch of the Beneficial Ownership Leadership Group, a coalition of countries advancing an emerging global norm on establishing public and open beneficial ownership registers. This effort, initiated by the UK government, and with civil society partners like OpenOwnership, is going to be anchored on OGP for implementation. OGP countries that endorsed this coalition include, Argentina, Armenia, Finland, Kenya, Latvia, Norway.
Further to this, OGP launched its flagship report on the state of open government, providing a thorough and honest review of progress made by OGP member countries in the first eight years of the partnership. OGP Global Report synthesizes OGP's data and findings into one flagship publication to provide thought leadership to the partnership, and provide comparative snapshots on all OGP countries.
Open Society Foundation (OSF)'s Patrick Gaspard announced that the organization has awarded OGP a challenge grant worth a potential of $10 million in new support. The matching grant will help OGP scale up its work, support its members in government and civil society to co-create and implement open government reforms that deliver results for citizens.
The OGP was formally launched on September 20, 2011, when the eight founding governments (Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States) endorsed the Open Government Declaration and announced their country action plans. Since 2011, 79 OGP participating countries and 20 subnational governments have made over 3,100 commitments to make their governments more open and accountable.