Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The total amount of unpaid oil and gas monies that Nigeriaâ€™s government has recovered using audit reports of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has hit $3billion, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr. Waziri Adio has disclosed.
Adio stated in a presentation he made at the 2017 edition of the annual lecture series of the Dauda Adegbenro Foundation held at the University of Ibadan, Oyo State, that through the instrumentality of NEITIâ€™s audit reports, the various agencies of government relevant in this regard have reclaimed $3 billion of the unpaid oil revenues from operators in the oil industry.
He said despite the transparency drive championed by the NEITI in Nigeriaâ€™s extractive sectors, the country was yet to escape from the impacts of resource curse, adding that this was because it had not deepened the principles of NEITI in its management of her extractive sectors.
â€œThrough NEITIâ€™s reports and interventions, Nigerians now know more about the operations of the sector that, despite low commodity prices, (oil) still remains the backbone of their economy. Citizens, civic groups and the media are now better armed with information that they can use to ask probing questions and make informed contributions to governance. Over time, various governments have used information from NEITIâ€™s reports to recover almost $3 billion that would have ended up unpaid. NEITIâ€™s recommendations are driving the on-going reforms in our oil and gas and mining sectors,â€ Adio explained.
He added that despite the countryâ€™s poor appreciation of the ideal of NEITI, it has however set the pace among EITI implementing countries, which now include the United Kingdom, United States, and Germany.
â€œIn 2013, Nigeria was voted as the best EITI implementing country in the world. Different countries, notably Ethiopia and Malawi, have come to Nigeria to understudy how EITI is implemented in Nigeria. Despite the well-acknowledged progress that our country is making in EITI implementation, Nigeria is yet to escape resource curse. EITI has not failed us. We, especially at moments of high oil prices, failed ourselves. Our country will benefit more from faithfully implementing the recommendations of the NEITI audit reports, which are done at considerable public expense. On-going reforms of the extractive sector deserve special commendation and should be sustained. Yet much more needs to be done to ensure prudent, accountable and optimal use of our extractive resources.
â€œOne, we need to know exactly how many barrels of crude oil we produce, not just how many barrels that we export. NEITIâ€™s first audit report covering the period 1999 to 2004 claimed that Nigeria did not know or could not independently and scientifically state its oil production beyond the say-so of the operators,â€ Adio said.
â€œThe situation remains the same, 11 years after that report was released, 59 years after we exported our first vessel of oil and 61 years after we discovered oil in commercial quantity in Oloibiri, in present Bayelsa State,â€ he added.