The Honourable Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, has said that the principle of transparency and accountability was of essence as the country responded to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
Agba, who is also the Co- chair of Open Government Partnership(OGP), stated this in Abuja, during a virtual roundtable discussion of State and Non State Actors, International Organization, Open Government Partnership and Donors.
The focus of the discussion was on ensuring an effective and inclusive stimulus and safety nets campaign for Nigeria as part of the response to the COVID 19 pandemic.
Speaking, the Minister hinted that the discussion was aimed at improving transparency and accountability as the country responded to COVID 19, especially, with the economy sustainability plan, adding that it would rebuild citizens support for government.
“The issues that we have is the disconnect between government and the governed and because of this disconnect, there is some kind of lack of trust, no matter how good the intentions of government programmes are”.
According to the Minister, President Buhari had signed up to the (OGP) just to ensure transparency and accountability and that the Government was able to engage it's citizen as well as build trust in all that was done.
He also said that the meeting was to discuss the current transparency mechanism of government, COVID 19 Response and recovery plan. It was to further brainstorm ways of improving existing mechanism and systems, maintaining that it was imperative to use the OGP to drive public participation and ownership on some of the programmes put in place by the government in response to the global pandemic.
Agba expressed concern over the core crisis facing the country, which he outlined as:- the health, the humanitarian, the security as well as economic crisis, stressing that measures of preventing a deep recession could not be overemphasized.
"We have had about 12 consecutive quarters of growth since the recession we had in 2016 which led to the putting in place of the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP).
The Minister pointed out that there were indications that Nigeria might be heading into a deep recession because growth was about 1.4% as against 2.5 in the last quarter of 2019, hence the introduction of programmes and economic activities that would engender growth as well as help prevent the country from plunging into deep recession.
Earlier, the Co chair and CEO of OGP, Mr. Sanjay Pradhan said the meeting was vital for three reasons:- To provide massive stimulus package for the vulnerable group, MSME, create employment as well as protect jobs for the citizens of Nigeria.
Sanjay was of the view that jointly, stakeholders would achieve clarity in terms of road maps, clear roles and responsibilities by collectively monitoring the funds and ensuring it reached the beneficiaries.
"There is a huge benefit for Nigerian citizens and citizens made vulnerable by COVID 19, as far as Nigeria is a member of the Steering committee of OGP"
29th July, 2020.