KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY BOSS MUSTAPHA, SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE FEDERATION DELIVERED AT THE SECOND QUARTER MEETING OF THE FORUM OF SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE FEDERATION WITH SECRETARIES TO STATE GOVERNMENTS HELD ON THURSDAY 11TH AUGUST, 2022 AT THE UNITY HALL, GOVERNMENT HOUSE, ASABA, DELTA – STATE.
It is my pleasure to welcome all of us to the Second Quarter meeting of the Forum of Secretary to the Government of the Federation with Secretaries to the State Governments. This forum which holds quarterly strives at building the required synergy between the Federal and States Bureaucracies in order to enhance harmony and improve relationship between the tiers of Government. The forum also provides an atmosphere for critical discussions on policy articulation, experience sharing, peer review and adaptations.
2. Distinguish Colleagues you may all recall, the first meeting this year held in April, 2022 at the Conference Centre of the State House, Abuja, where issues of National Importance bordering on Bureaucratic Continuity in Pre-Election and Transition Periods were discussed. The meeting also reiterated the need for continued Governance regardless of heightened Political activities in order to ensure service delivery to the citizens.
3. As you are aware, Nigeria operates constitutional democracy which has characteristics such as Guaranteed freedoms, equity, justice, transparency and accountability among others. It also promotes an open participatory process, feedback mechanism and rule of law thereby guaranteeing better and fairer Government policies, programmes and projects implementation.
4. As leaders charged with responsibility of Servicing Government machinery, policy coordination, monitoring, implementation of progammes/policies and reporting in our respective jurisdictions, we need to address the question of how to effectively deliver democracy dividends in form of well-articulated policies, programmes and projects.
5. At the Federal level, the realization of the critical role of the Secretary to the Government Office in the coordination of Government policies, programmes and projects, led to conduct of an institutional appraisal in 2019. The appraisal provided a better appreciation of the scope of the Office’s mandate and functions and more innovative ways of delivering them.
6. The study further revealed among other things, the Office’s excessive focus on the administrative part of its mandate with little attention to core policy functions, especially policy coordination (among Federal MDAs and across the tiers) and tracking the implementation of the Federal Executive Council approved policies, programmes, and projects.
7. The establishment of a central coordination unit at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation office is part of the reform influenced by the study. The Unit presently afford government the machinery to track policies, programmes and projects implementation more efficiently. In addition, a feedback process is also in place where citizens participate. Details on these would be delivered in a paper in the course of the meeting.
8. Ladies and Gentlemen, increased global demand by civil society groups, Non-Governmental Organizations and citizens to have greater say in public decision-making, as well as the desire by many governments to improve inclusiveness and responsiveness led to calls for more openness in Governance. Pursuant to these, the Federal Government has been collaborating with an International Transparency and Accountability Organization known as the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in the following areas among others:
To ensure that budget planning, approval, implementation, monitoring and reporting meet the needs of citizens and that citizens have open access to budget information in a format that is both human and machine readable;
To improve accountability and transparency of Government procurement process through the implementation of open contracting and public participation in the public contracting process;
To establish a Public Central Register of Beneficial Owners of Companies;
To establish a platform for sharing information among Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), Anti-Corruption Agencies (ACAs), National Security Adviser (NSA), and Financial Sector regulators to detect, prevent and disrupt corrupt practices;
To improve compliance of public institutions with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with respect to the Proactive disclosure provisions, stipulating mandatory publications requirements;
To adopt a technology-based citizens’ feedback on projects and programmes across transparency and accountability.
State Government are therefore encouraged to Key into these Initiatives to enhance Transparency and Accountability in Governance.
9. We are all aware of the Economic challenges presently in our Nation, never the less Governments both at Federal and State levels have through a number of policies and interventions been working to promote inclusive economic growth, Empowerment and Business opportunities for the citizens. At the Federal level, Sectors such as the Digital Economy, Solid Mineral Development, Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship among others have been given the necessary Support to enable Employment Generation and Business Growth.
10. In the course of this meeting, there will be presentations on several initiatives in the aforementioned sectors. I therefore urge my colleagues to identify further areas of collaboration with the Federal Agencies anchoring them for the benefit of our citizens.
11. The Federal Government would continue to give priority to high employment generating Sectors, improve business environment and youth development in addition social investment programmes would continue to be given the required attention. The active support and collaboration of sub-national Governments is therefore very critical as we strive to resolve present economic challenges of Nigeria.
12. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are being steadily implemented and substantial progress have been attained in a number of the Goals as we Work towards meeting the 2030 Target. States are also encouraged to partner the Federal Government in this Area.
13. Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to urge you to utilize the instrumentality of your Office as the policy coordination hub of Government to fast-track the initiation and implementation of policies and programmes as well harness the various opportunities in key Sectors of the economy offered by the Federal Government to improve the lives and well-being of our people.
14. The lead presentation on the role of Secretary to Government in a Presidential Democracy by Professor Oladapo Afolabi I am sure would engender robust discussions that will surely enrich all of us. Similarly, the Various presentations from some key Agencies of the Federal Government would also avail the meeting of a number of opportunities to be explored for the benefit of our people. The National Primary Health Care Development Agency is also present here and would enlighten us on their activities especially with regards to Covid 19 Pandemic Management.
15. On this note, I wish everyone a fruitful deliberation and thank you for your attention.