Chineme Okafor in Abuja
All Nigerians would be able to know more about how the countryâ€™s oil, gas and solid minerals sectors operate without the usual practice of keeping away key information about the sectorsâ€™ earnings and remittances to the government from them anymore, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has declared.
NEITI said this would be made possible through its new open governance framework â€“ the NEITI dashboard, an online platform containing simplified information about the operations of Nigeriaâ€™s extractive sectors.
It explained that through the platform, the citizens would be able to finally own the extractive sector, contribute reasonably to debates about its governance and then push for its management for the good of the entire country and not a few.
â€œThis value-added product we have presented today aligns with our resolve to push the boundaries and expand the frontiers of openness and accountability,â€ the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr. Waziri Adio, said during the launch of the platform in Abuja.
Adio further explained: â€œThe second takeaway is that it is an effort to ensure that the actual owners of the natural resources and I mean Nigerians across the board, not just a few Nigerians, not just some Nigerian but Nigerians are the real owners.
â€œSo, it is a restorative exercise so to say, it is about restoring Nigerians as the rightful owners of their resources.
â€œYou may be wondering what I mean by this, but the fact is that you cannot truly own what you donâ€™t know.â€
Providing reasons to back NEITIâ€™s decision to set up the platform, Adio stated: â€œThe extractive sector remains not just the most critical sector of national life, but the collective property of all Nigerians.
â€œIt doesnâ€™t belong to the government, it doesnâ€™t belong to a few Nigerians, it doesnâ€™t belong to some Nigerians, and it is the collective property of all Nigerians. And, Nigerians not only have the right to know but to truly own it by knowing it.
â€œAs you all know, this is a very technical field and the technical nature of the field also imposes and reinforces exclusion because it is very technical, it is only those who know about it that can be part of the conversation, it is only those who know about it that can come to the table and make a reasonable argument.â€
He added: â€œOur goal with this product, is to foster inclusion and ownership by constantly demystifying this sector.
â€œIt also accords with our work, for EITI to achieve its purpose of reducing poverty, promoting development and reversing resource curse, there is need for robust public engagement and debate.
â€œIt is not enough for us to say we have published reports, and they have been republished that the change we want to come will come. The change will come when we intimately engage ourselves and debates about the best way to use the resources.â€