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Faces of Open Government: Alhaji Garba Abubakar

Rostros del gobierno abierto: Alhaji Garba Abubakar

Alhaji Abubakar – photo
Alhaji Garba Abubakar|

In August 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria assented to the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020, enhancing corporate accountability and transparency through a new registry disclosing persons with significant control of companies. The autonomous body responsible for the register is the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) led by Registrar General Alhaji Garba Abubakar, who sat down with OGP to discuss what the new provisions in the Law mean for the country and how Nigeria’s open government journey led to this moment. 

1. Stakeholders in Nigeria in government and civil society – as well as those in the international community – have welcomed the passing of the Law and have great expectations of what it can do to enhance transparency and accountability. What are the new provisions in CAMA 2020 trying to accomplish and why is the Law so important?  

The provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020 on beneficial ownership transparency were modeled after the United Kingdom Persons with Significant Control disclosure framework but with a lower shareholding and voting right threshold of 5%.The provisions extend to persons that control the appointment of majority of the directors, amongst others. This applies to companies registered either as public or private and limited liability partnerships.

The register will be publicly available in open data format. This will greatly support and strengthen  the anti-corruption initiative of the Nigerian Government by providing opportunity to the public to report any noticeable misstatements.

The various anti-corruption agencies and law enforcement organisations will also have unrestricted access to the register in their investigation and law enforcement activities. This will allow for timely conclusion of investigation and tracking of illicit financial transactions.

2. This Law is a great example of cross-sector collaboration as civil society organizations, the private sector, and the government all had a role to play in making this a reality. How did they use the OGP framework and support to help advance this initiative? What other international partners supported you in this process?  

The OGP framework was the single most important platform used to achieve consensus amongst various stakeholders on the scope of application of the law and the ideal thresholds on shareholding and voting rights.

Without OGP, it would have been impossible to achieve consensus between Government Institutions and Civil Society in a manner that will be acceptable to all. Various workshops were held across the country sponsored by various state and non-state actors to enlighten stakeholders on the benefits of beneficial ownership transparency and to galvanize support for the passage of the law by the Nigerian National Assembly.

3. Now that President Buhari has assented to the Law, what’s next? How can we ensure the Law is effectively implemented to get the expected results? 

The Commission is receiving a grant of USD 400,000 from the World Bank under the OGP Multi-Donor Trust Fund for the development and deployment of electronic register of beneficial ownership (PSC). The budget includes funding for stakeholders engagement activities with civil society.

We have also been receiving technical support from Open Ownership in the design of the disclosure requirements and various training opportunities for our personnel. We also want to commend Transparency International through their Nigerian affiliate CISLAC for their unwavering support and the various training opportunities offered to us as well as enlightenment programmes and advocacy in the passage of CAMA 2020.

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