Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Senate has said it will consider giving the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) the powers to retain certain percentage of the revenues recovered from defaulters in Nigeria’s extractive industries as part of measures to improve the agency’s financial capacity.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Senator Omotayo Alasoadura stated this when he led his colleagues on a recent oversight visit to the NEITI Secretariat in Abuja.
Alasoadura stated that as part of measures to address the funding challenges experienced by NEITI, the Senate might review the NEITI law to enable it retain a percentage of revenues recovered from the extractive companies.
According to a statement from NEITI, Alasoadura also explained that the issues raised by the NEITI industry audit reports are receiving the attention of the Senate, and expressed dismay over poor funding of the agency.
Through its audit of operations and financial flows from Nigeria’s extractive industries – oil, gas and solid minerals, NEITI uncovers several underpayments and irregularities perpetrated by operators in the industries.
NEITI also flags them off for the relevant agencies of government like the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) to recover.
With Alasoadura’s disclosure, NEITI may be allowed to take part of the recovered funds to augment its operational finances.
According to the statement, NEITI’s Executive Secretary, Mr. Waziri Adio had in his welcome remarks, identified the need for a new law for the petroleum sector as one priority area that the Senate needs to pay immediate attention.
Adio advised that a piecemeal rather than an omnibus approach to the passage of the law be adopted, and underlined the need for the law to have robust transparency, accountability and efficiency measures.
He also said that as an agency saddled with the responsibility of ensuring transparency and accountability in the extractive industries, NEITI has a legitimate interest in the bill, and therefore urged the Senate to work with all the relevant stakeholders to ensure that a new petroleum law is prioritised, enacted and used as one of the strategies for economic recovery.
Adio equally informed the committee that NEITI is currently confronted with serious financial challenges capable of hampering its core mandate, and appealed to them to do everything within their powers to rescue the agency.