LONDON 2016: A RECOGNITION OF PRESIDENT BUHARI’S ANTI-CORRUPTION FOCUS

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria on Tuesday, joins 50 other world leaders at a landmark international anti-corruption summit in London, called by Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom.

The “Anti-Corruption Summit London 2016” aims to agree a package of practical steps to expose and exterminate corruption, punish perpetrators, support victims of corruption and put in place infrastructure and tools to fight corruption.

In a remarkable recognition of his ongoing war against corruption in Nigeria, President Buhari will speak twice at the event; a clear indication that the President’s focus has become a template for the rest of the world.

In sharing experiences with other leaders, President Buhari will reiterate his strong conviction that increasing globalisation has made it difficult, if not impossible for stand-alone nations to combat corruption; that without global synergies against corruption, nations will fail in their efforts to achieve economic growth, maintain security, reduce poverty and protect the environment for their children.

Consequently, he will seek support for anti-corruption capacity for the nation’s institutions and the citizenship.

As his own contribution, the President has substantially aligned himself with major initiatives enunciated by the convener, Prime Minister David Cameron that seek to increase transparency and governance in several key areas.

He has formulated a Nigerian position on how to end impunity for corruption and ensure that those involved are brought to justice and proceeds are returned to those from whom they were stolen.

In an outline, Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, listed specific areas of interest to Nigeria as including the development of beneficial ownership information, related to corporate ownership, procurement and public contract.

By this, Nigeria will seek the lifting of the veil on corporate ownerships in order to disclose the true owners of a corporate vehicle in contract bids and procurement processes. Beyond this, the corporate ownership profile may be shared with other countries or interested stakeholders.

To achieve this, Nigeria plans the enactment of a regulation that will authorise the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC to obtain and store information on beneficial ownership of foreign companies in Nigeria.

Nigeria is also demanding the strengthening of supervisory responsibilities of regulators of financial and non-financial services, provision of specific training on compliance requirements and the establishment of inter-agency collaboration.

In Nigeria, several measures are already in the works to enhance fiscal transparency, enhance economic growth, improve GDP and reduce poverty. To this end, the Nigerian government has set for itself the objective of signing the ‘Open Government Partnership And Open Contracting Partnership.

It has also already begun a review of its anti-corruption laws enacted since 2000, to bring it in compliance with international developments., as well as a review of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention for possible ratification. The OECD convention is considered among the stringiest of measures against corruption in corporate governance.

The government of President Buhari has also forwarded the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill, 2016 to the National Assembly for enactment into law. When passed, it will enhance mutual assistance and international co-operation between Nigeria and other countries.

Furthermore, a new Nigeria Financial Intelligence Centre Bill has been drafted for this purpose and would soon be forwarded to the National Assembly.

Nigeria will also seek support to host an “International Summit on Assets Recovery” in 2017 and the establishment and hosting of a “Forum on Assets Recovery in Africa”, to be based in the country’s capital.

At the summit, Nigeria will be embracing fully, UK proposals for the summit on travel and investment restrictions for persons who have looted public funds. To this end, the Nigerian government is developing its list of those who have been convicted as well as those already prosecuted in Nigerian courts for grand corruption, for the purpose of recovering such looted funds.

In addition to the anti-corruption summit, the visit will also focus on trade and investment between Nigeria and the U.K, for which hopes are high that the bilateral discussions between the Prime Minister and President Buhari will propel the relationship between the two countries to newer heights.

Garba Shehu is the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity.

H.S