It is my delight to join the Director General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms to welcome you all to this threefold occasion. Today’s gathering is in furtherance of the Center’s efforts at promoting principles of transparency in the nation’s public service, and good governance in general.
The Center for Fiscal Transparency & Integrity Watch (CeFTIW) is a non-governmental and non-partisan organization established in 2016 to promote accountability and transparency within the public sector. In promoting good governance at all levels to achieve its objectives, the Center develops technological solutions to monitor public sector expenditure and provide same to the public. It monitors issues relating to the integrity of public officers and institutions’ responsiveness to public scrutiny.
While it promotes open governance at national and sub-national levels, it also serves as a credible hub for resources related to the criminal justice system. The Center has worked with government, media and civil society to implement programs and interventions to strengthen legal and institutional frameworks within the criminal justice system toward strengthening democracy and improving governance in Nigeria.
Through advocacy and scientific research, the Center has continued to partner with stakeholders in the fight against corruption in the public sector and enhance compliance with extant laws on open governance. For instance, the Center was the lead civil society organization to engage with the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation & Minister of Justice for high-level support in the passage of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act 2022, Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Act 2022, Witness Protection Act 2022, Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act 2022 and Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act 2022 (as amended).
Equally, the Center, in response to the monetization of the nation’s elections, has through its Electoral Financing Project, developed a portal to track election spending. We hope to, through this database of election spending, promote transparency in the political parties and candidates’ sources of funding ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Today, we are gathered to present three of our other interventions aimed at promoting transparency in the public sector.
Firstly, the Transparency and Integrity Index (TII) is one of the Center’s flagship projects supported by the Macarthur Foundation. It was borne out of the need to strengthen existing preventive mechanisms in combating corruption; especially given the concern that huge resources are deployed every year to prosecute corruption without corresponding slowdown of incidences. Hence, the TII was developed to enhance good governance by making public institutions as transparent as possible. The maiden report presented to mark the 2021 International Day for Universal Access to Information (28th September), clearly underpinned the need for government agencies to be more open with information as required by enabling local laws and international treaties/conventions; with the highest ranked organization, Family Homes Fund Limited accumulating a total score point of 34.92%.
To consolidate and improve MDAs ratings, over the last year, the Center has sustained its advocacy by promoting the principle of the project, and the need for MDAs to proactively publish information on their website as a means of preventing corruption and enhancing transparency. Besides engaging media and other civil society players to propagate the index, an enhanced Assessment Methodology Handbook was also presented to serve as a comprehensive guide on how to ensure conformity with the relevant guiding principles which form the bedrock of the research.
Today, the Center is excited to state that the 2022 TII research has shown remarkable improvement in the performance of MDAs in core areas of open governance and transparency.
Secondly, today’s program will see the presentation of the Public Service Diaries platform developed in partnership with the BPSR. the PSD project leverage technology to create a platform for knowledge sharing between retired public servants and existing public officers. As you may be aware, section 206 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) provides for the establishment of Civil Service for each State of the Federation. The civil/public service provides the machinery and acts as a springboard for the development, and consolidation of programmes and policies of the government. Also, the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) provides for State Parties implementation of measures that enable competent discharge of public functions. According to article 7 of the convention, ‘’Each State Party shall where appropriate and in accordance with the fundamental principles of its legal system, promote education and training programmes to enable them to meet the requirements for the correct, honourable and proper performance of public functions and that provide them with specialized and appropriate training to enhance their awareness of the risks of corruption inherent in the performance of their functions. Such programmes may make reference to codes or standards of conduct in applicable areas’’.
Despite the above provisions, there is not known viable platform that facilitates knowledge exchange between retired personnel and serving civil servants. The PSD portal is developed to bridge this knowledge gap; by responding to a range of issues in the public service and work to improve public servants’ competence and commitment to service. It provides a platform for retired civil servants to share opinions, experiences and recommendations on issues regarding public service integrity, accountability, and transparency.
Also today, we are physically presenting our Probes Monitor Portal. The PMP was developed in view of the Center’s concerns, first and foremost, about the abuse of constitutional processes in which case probe panels are constituted and either abandoned halfway; and on the other hand, the non-implementation of probe Committees’ reports. This continuous defiance of government institutions and public officers to extant laws in this regard will continue to weaken our democratic processes. The portal hosts information on grand corruption-related probes that were made public between 1999 and 2022; to draw attention of all concerned stakeholders to the litany of abandoned probes. It is also hoped that Citizens would take advantage of this portal and data to demand for transparency and accountability from their elected leaders and the public sector in general.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are pleased to find a partner in the BPSR an agency of government mandated to initiate, coordinate and ensure the full implementation of government reform policies and programs. This year’s TII presentation will equally feature a keynote address by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha as part of efforts to deepen fiscal transparency measures in the public service; and we hope that outcome of today’s interaction will further enhance the integrity of our systems.
For us at the Center, we are poised to do more, and expand our work beyond the shore of the country. In 2022, the Center was appointed to the Board of the United Nations Convention against Corruption Coalition to support the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). Our position as the sub-Saharan African representative at the UNCAC Coalition places a burden on us to replicate the TII model in other African countries. The Center seizes this opportunity to call on development partners and African governments to support our efforts at replicating and mainstreaming the TII as a continental tool for measuring compliance with access to information laws, promote transparency and e-governance in a bid to prevent corruption.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, we are pleased to have you today, and we wish us a deliberation.