Stakeholders Laud Orji’s Emergence as NEITI Boss

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By Emmanuel Addeh

Stakeholders in the oil and gas industry as well as Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), have lauded the appointment of Dr. Ogbonnaya Orji, as the new Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).

The Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Mele Kyari, in his remarks, highlighted Orji’s unwavering quest and commitment to promoting transparency and accountability in natural resource governance, describing it as an asset that will help him in his new role.

Kyari stated that the former Director of Advocacy and Communications of the organisation, remains a competent technocrat, expert and resource governance professional, stressing that he has been deeply involved in NEITI and NNPC engagements on reforms of the oil and gas industry over the past decade.

While pledging the NNPC’s support, he affirmed that the corporation was ready to sustain its collaboration with NEITI under Orji’s leadership in the key areas of the agency’s industry audit process, exchange of information and data, commodity trading, contract transparency, beneficial ownership, mainstreaming and overall oil and gas industry reforms under the existing framework.

The International Secretariat of the global Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), in its message from the Executive Director and Head of the International Secretariat based in Oslo, Norway, Mr. Mark Robinson welcomed the appointment with excitement and pledged closer EITI working relationship with Nigeria under Orji’s leadership.

The Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC) said it believes that the choice of Orji was a natural one in view of the milestones achieved by the present management of NEITI and ongoing efforts by the organisation to help in repositioning Nigeria’s extractive sector.

According to the NNRC, Orji is well versed in issues of extractive sector transparency, saying that he has been deeply involved in engagements on oil sector reforms which the NNRC see as a great advantage for the Nigerian petroleum sector.

“The NNRC pledges to continue to collaborate with NEITI in areas such as exchange of information and data, contract transparency, beneficial ownership, creating an enabling environment for the oil and gas industry and above all in the NNRC’s Benchmarking Exercise Report (BER) which evaluates developments in the petroleum sector on a biennial basis,” it said.

Also, the Head Communications and Advocacy, Obiageli Onuorah quoted the member representing Ado/Ogbadibo/Okpokwu Federal Constituency, Dr. Francis Ottah Agbo, as saying that, “he has no doubt that Orji will use his experience as a journalist and an administrator to reposition the organisation to effectively ensure transparency and accountability in the country’s oil, gas and mining industries.”

The lawmaker who is the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Narcotic Drugs, described Orji, “as a journalist who rose through the ranks to an enviable position at the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) before joining NEITI where he has risen to head the organisation”.

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) described the appointment as outstanding given Orji’s diverse experience in resource governance and public service.

CISLAC Executive Director Auwal Musa Rafsanjani expressed the hope that the appointment will help hasten the process of re-composition of NEITI National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG) by the resident.

Executive Director, Women-in-Extractives, Faith Nwadishi said she was particularly happy that President Buhari acted promptly to appoint a replacement for the position, describing Mr Orji’s choice as excellent.

Urging the federal government to reconstitute the board of NEITI which has been vacant for almost a year, Nwadishi said this would ensure the job of sustaining transparency in the oil and gas, and the solid mineral sector was not hindered.