President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, said the controversial Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020 (CAMA) will enhance the fight against corruption.
Mr Buhari said this at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) 2020 Virtual Leaders’ Summit on Thursday.
The bill assented by President Buhari on August 7 has generated furore amongst Nigerians.
The critics, majorly clergymen, condemned certain provisions of the law that empowers the government to appoint administrators for churches and non-governmental organisations under certain conditions.
Popular Christian clerics and prominent civic groups in Nigeria, including the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), have kicked against the new law.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) under the leadership of Samson Ayokunle also called on the President to suspend its implementation.
Nexus with war on graft
Meanwhile, at the summit which is part of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA75) in New York, United States, President Buhari explained that the law will enhance transparency and corporate accountability in the fight against corruption.
Participants at the virtual event include Heads of State and Government from Argentina, Canada, France, Georgia and Germany.
According to a statement signed Femi Adesina, his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Buhari said his government has been committed to the anti-corruption war.
”Since the inception of our Administration in 2015, the Government has been committed to changing international and domestic perceptions regarding Nigeria’s commitment to fight corruption and foster good governance.
”We focused on the task of dealing head-on with this destructive monster, which led to us joining the Open Government Partnership and making reform commitments such as to establish a public central register of beneficial owners of corporate entities.”
He said the government “has made significant progress in implementing tougher anti-corruption measures, including the new Companies and Allied Matters Act”.
”The Act provides a legal framework for the implementation of Beneficial Ownership Information Disclosure in Nigeria.
”Being an OGP member-country has helped Nigeria learn from other countries tackling similar challenges, and to build a coalition to support these reforms across the private sector and civil society. It has also aided our journey towards building citizens’ trust in government,” he said.
Mr Buhari told the summit that governments cannot solve all the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic alone, placing emphasis on open governance and working with citizens.
”We face a significant contraction in the global economy in 2020; the world is facing the unprecedented twin challenges of managing the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.
”In these times, citizens worldwide are seeking more information, engagement, and support from their governments,” he said.
He, however, pledged that his administration would “continue to use its OGP membership to ensure that open government approaches strengthen the pandemic management, adding that the Nigerian government will sustain consultations and engagements with citizens through Civil Society Organisations and the Organised Private Sector on COVID-19 response and recovery plan.”