FG: There Will Be No Political Interference in Selection of New NEITI Board

•SGF says global EITI’s areas of concern will be sorted out

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

The federal government has assured the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) that there will be no political interference in the emergence of the next governing board of its Nigerian branch, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).

Typically, the board, also known as the National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG) comprises government officials, industry leaders as well as civil society groups. In the past, issues had been raised about the transparency of the process.

But the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator George Akume, who made the commitment  in Abuja, while receiving a delegation from the global EITI, Oslo, Norway, which is on a working mission to Nigeria, stated that all grey areas will be being sorted out.

“One area where government assured the delegation of its urgent action is in the reconstitution of the NSWG and preservation of NEITI governance structure from political interference,” a statement signed by NEITI’s Deputy Director/Head Communications and Stakeholders Management, Obiageli Onuorah, stated.

The SGF reassured the delegation that NEITI will be supported to facilitate and ensure robust consultations and decision-making leading to the implementation of the NEITI mandate and the EITI standards.

“In this direction, I wish to announce to you that the federal government will constitute the NEITI national stakeholders working group without further delay.

“In constituting the NEITI board, we will take into consideration the peculiar nature of NEITI operations, the EITI standards and ensure that the quality of its membership reflects the expectations of the global EITI,” the SGF noted.

Akume also took cognisance of Nigeria’s performance in the recent EITI assessment of progress recorded by the country in the implementation of the initiative between 2019-2022, explaining that while the present administration is proud of its impacts, concerns raised by the global body will be addressed.

According to him, reliable information and data provided by NEITI’s reports have helped tremendously in shaping the ongoing reforms in Nigeria’s oil, gas and mining sectors.

“We have also found NEITI reports to be very useful in the areas of revenue generation, resource mobilisation, blocking leakages in the system and a dependable data resource in the country’s sustained war against corruption.

“I want to acknowledge the report of the EITI validation of Nigeria and to assure you that the federal government is already working on the report. From our preliminary reviews, we have noted with excitement the many areas that Nigeria excelled in that report and the areas that our country requires improvements.

“The government is fully aware that we were assessed on three major indicators: Outcomes/impacts, transparency as well as stakeholders engagements,” he added.

The SGF remarked that he was elated that Nigeria excelled on outcomes and impacts with a score of 92 per cent and over 70 per cent on transparency disclosures, which he said showed that Nigeria is benefiting from the implementation of the EITI.

However, he acknowledged that Nigeria requires more work and improvements in the areas of stakeholders’ engagements where Nigeria scored just above 50 per cent.

He applauded EITI for highlighting specific areas where the country needed to correct and improve upon before the next validation which will take place in January 2026.

The SGF further stated that Nigeria through NEITI is working to provide action plans that will remedy the gaps identified by the validation report before January 2026, the stipulated time given to Nigeria to address noticeable areas of improvement in the oil, gas and mining industry sector reforms.

“On the corrective measures, you have highlighted, please let me give you the assurance, that we will pay priority attention to the identified areas of weaknesses.

“I have directed the executive secretary of NEITI to come up immediately with a comprehensive plan of action to address all the corrective actions highlighted in the report to be implemented as part of ongoing extractive industry reforms.

“On our part, the federal government  will provide all the necessary support to enable NEITI and indeed Nigeria, deepen EITI implementation because our country needs it most,” Akume noted.

The leader of the delegation, the Deputy Head, EITI Secretariat Mr. Bady Baldé had earlier said that the team was in Nigeria to communicate to stakeholders as well as the Nigerian government, the outcome of the last validation exercise for and proffer support for post-validation planning.

The delegation later met with the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Mr. Dele Alake and the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, who was represented by Director of Research and Economic Planning in the ministry, Mrs. Grace Ogbonna.

The two ministers pledged more institutional support for NEITI interventions in the extractive sector reforms in the areas of contract disclosures and anti-corruption principles to block leakages and increase revenue generation for the benefit of the citizens.

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