Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) will on December 12 unveil owners of oil, gas and mining assets in the country with the launch of its Beneficial Ownership Register, making Nigeria the first affiliate of the global Extractive Industries Transparency (EITI) fraternity to do so.
The register will open the lid on the owners of oil wells, gas deposits and other mining sites across the country.
The NEITI Director of Communications, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji made the disclosure in Abuja, yesterday at an interactive session between the visiting head of the EITI Secretariat in Oslo, Norway, Mr. Mark Robinson; civil society organisations and journalists.
Giving an overview of the agency’s activities, Orji, who represented the NEITI Executive Secretary, Mr. Waziri Adio, said the launch of the forthcoming Beneficial Ownership Register would be a milestone, which would provide facts about those behind oil, gas and mining assets.
He stated that NEITI was developing a road map on open data mainstreaming, adding that it had already aligned with most of EITI’s processes, putting Nigeria in a good standing as one of the top seven performing countries out of the 52-member global organisation.
The chairman of the civil societies steering committee on the NEITI Board, Kolawole Banwo in his remarks, noted that Nigeria Nigeria’s processes and performance had been adjudged satisfactory by EITI, noting that remediation which is a missing link is already being addressed.
Banwo pointed out that the challenges that needed to be addressed had been identified, noting that an application to track media issues is being developed.
In his remarks, the EITI global head, Mark Robinson noted that Nigeria is one of the largest single member-country of EITI.
He stated that while in Nigeria, he had already met with the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari and the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, among others.
Robinson said his visit was fruitful with the NNPC committing to joining the EITI initiative, stressing that the work of EITI and its affiliates significantly helps address corruption in the extractive industry and free up funds for development.
He observed that although NEITI had made significant strides, there were a lot of things to go beyond the ‘satisfactory’ rating and corrective actions for the government to take.
He cited the illegal extraction of oil and mining operations as well as non-remittance of oil revenues.
Meanwhile, at a meeting with Mrs. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, Robinson said he was in Nigeria to meet with stakeholders in the extractive industries and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), to relay some priorities on how NEITI in Nigeria has worked with data and systemic disclosure, and how the ministry is using NEITI data for inclusiveness.
“I am here to meet with NEITI and to see how it works, how both NEITI and EITI can work together with right information, and how capacity building can be shared,” he said.
Robinson, who is in Nigeria to access the level and impacts of EITI
implementation in the country, is also here to review progress so far
made by Nigeria in the implementation of EITI standards as part of the
overall on-going reforms agenda in Nigeria’s oil, gas and mining
Talking about NEITI in Nigeria and the need to ensure revised standard
on systematic disclosures, he said by 2020 all information about
business in the sectors must be disclosed and transparent.
Responding Ahmed said NEITI has been working to ensure more data
update so that the government can use such data for development
purposes. Expressing her happiness for the visit, she said she was
also happy with EITI’s effort to empower more sectors. She said that
due to environmental differences, Nigeria has realised that just
following international protocol would not be enough. She added: “EITI
mandate is more about reporting standards, improving process, systems,
identifying loopholes and leakages. Fighting corruption should be left
for the anti corruption agencies.”
The Minister disclosed that government agencies are on data automation
but not interfacing with one another, hence each having different
figures. She said this is the reason that President Muhammadu Buhari
has asked a Committee to reconcile government revenue since 1999,
which is now being done on weekly basis with a more realistic data and
information from the different reporting agencies.
In order to enhance open disclosure, government has a template on
remittances and disbursement, thereby giving citizens room to ask
questions, if need be, according to Ahmed.