Nigeria’s efforts towards building a Beneficial Ownership Register (BOR) in line with global best practice are worthy of emulation by other African countries.
Stakeholders including Stephen R Davenport, Global Lead, Governance Global Practice, World Bank gave this verdict today in Abuja at the International Peer Learning Workshop on the Use of Beneficial Ownership Information and the Launch of Nigeria’s Open Register of Beneficial Ownership of Companies and Entities.
The workshop organized by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in collaboration with the World Bank drew participants from the United Kingdom, Slovakia, Cameroun, and Zambia, amongst other countries.
In his remarks, the Registrar General/CEO of the Corporate Affairs Commission, Alhaji Garba Abubakar, said the workshop was aimed at examining the benefits of the beneficial ownership disclosure, how to verify the data, and how to effectively utilize it among others.
Garba Abubakar said Investigation Agencies, Civil Society Organizations, Journalists and interested members of the public can leverage the BOR to fight corruption and other related matters free of charge.
The Registrar General therefore expressed gratitude to stakeholders such as the open government partnership, Open Ownership, and the World Bank for their support towards the successful development and eventual launch of the public register.
Speakers at the event included Patrick Enaholo of the School of Media and Communication at Pan Atlantic University, Lagos, who made a presentation on Nigeria as a Case Study and Lessons Learned.
Enaholo opined that some of the lessons were that Nigeria made immense progress with the implementation of beneficial ownership commitments in view of political will and public commitment.
Dr. Orji Obonnaya Orji, the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, while contributing during a panel discussion segment, stressed that the company information now at their disposal was restricted to oil and gas, but were working towards enlarging the information by merging extractive industry information with the larger CAC’s collected data.
Steve R. Davenport, Global Lead, Governance Global Practice, World Bank, in his contribution to the discussion on Nigeria’s Beneficial Ownership Processes, said the World Bank has an anti-corruption strategy and transparency focus, and Beneficial Ownership was part of that.
He added that while Nigeria was doing a lot in procurement transparency, there was a need to take it a step further through the BOR, and he maintained that the co-creation and multi-stakeholder mechanism in Nigeria with respect to OGP made it possible for the World Bank to support BO through its anti-corruption strategy.
CAC News reports that discussants and speakers at today’s session include Wilson Banda, Registrar/CEO, Zambia Patents and Companies Registration Agency; Idris Linge, Researcher, Francophone Africa Hub; Tax Justice Network; Joshua Olufemi, Co-Founder, Dataphyte; and Thom Townsend, Open Ownership.
Others include CAC’s Director of Compliance, Justin Nidia Biraol, and Kristina Oravcova of the Ministry of Justice, Slovakia, who later gave the vote of thanks to round up today’s event.
The workshop continues tomorrow, May 25, 2023, with the formal launch of the Beneficial Ownership Register to be performed by Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment.