By John Ikani
The Federal Government has assured of its commitment to the implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in the oil, gas, and mining industries of Nigeria.
The assurance was given by President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday at the 5th National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG), otherwise known as the governing board of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
The president who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, reiterated his administration’s passion for the EITI process, stressing that it serves two key agendas to the present administration.
According to him, the extractive industry is very strategic to Nigeria’s economy and central to the present administration’s economic agenda.
He further noted that transparency and accountability in the management of Nigeria’s national resources, are equally central to the anti-corruption agenda of the present government.
“Our faith in the EITI process is not just because it is key to these two key government agendas, but also because, over the years, NEITI has demonstrated a high degree of competence, integrity and commitment to the values that the country requires to achieve economic growth and development in the sector through the availability of reliable information and data required for national planning and reforms. It has also supported phenomenal revenue growth in the sector through the meticulous application of EITI principles,“ he said.
The president urged the board members of NEITI not to relent in sustaining the virtues for the benefit of all including the future generations.
He said: “In order to achieve this, I must remind you that your assignment is non-partisan because NEITI itself is non-political and has maintained dignified neutrality all through almost two decades of existence.
“It is also necessary for me to stress that your appointment is a part-time one. You are therefore advised to conduct yourselves in accordance with this requirement.
“Your mandate as the Board of this organisation is to ensure effective EITI implementation in Nigeria by providing policy and strategic direction, guidance, monitoring and oversight to the EITI process in Nigeria.
“Let me remind you that unlike most agencies of government, NEITI is not just a local agency of the government, but part of an international organisation. Hence it must be seen to comply with the principles of the international EITI.“
President Buhari, while congratulating the members on their appointment, noted that they were carefully selected based on individual merit and track record.
He added that the inauguration of the board was to practically demonstrate the administration’s commitment to transparency and accountability in the management of the nation’s economic resources, and especially given the mandate and objectives of the Nigeria EITI.
He again renewed the commitment of Nigeria under his watch to the EITI implementation under the provisions of the NEITI Act 2007, and international standards and best practices under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative principles and emerging issues such as Beneficial Ownership Disclosure, Contract Transparency, data mainstreaming, among others.
Responding on Behalf of the NSWG, Chairman of the Board, Mr Olusegun Adeyemi Adekunle, a renowned public administrator and immediate past Federal Permanent Secretary, General Services in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, thanked the President for the confidence reposed on them and opportunity to serve. He assured the President that the new Board under his watch will push the boundaries of transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s extractive industries.
He committed to fully implement the principles of the global EITI and strengthening the ongoing reforms in Nigeria’s extractive sector.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji who is also a member and serves as Secretary to the Board, applauded the timely decision of the Federal Government to reconstitute the NEITI Board.
He said: “The NSWG is central to the work of NEITI. The constitution of this Board will enable NEITI to reassume its leading position among the global EITI implementing countries.”
On the newly passed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), Orji assured that the board will study the document and use it as a guide in the work of NEITI.
He urged the office of the SGF to be the political champion of the work or the agency.
Other members of the 15 -Man NEITI Board include the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Mines and Steel Development representing Government Extractive Industries, Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), representing Extractive Industries Revenue and Accountability, while the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will be representing the National Oil and Gas Company.
The Board also has a representative of the International Oil Companies (IOCs). The civil society organisations have Mr Peter Egbule representing them while the Presidents of Nigeria Mining & Geosciences Society (NMGS) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) are representing Extractive Industries Professional Unions on the Board.
There are also six zonal representatives on the Board. They are Dr Bashir Bature Gafai (an Oil and Gas accountant) for the North West, Dr Iliya Gashinbaki (Accountant) representing the North East, Dr Godwin Akor Ogwuche, North Central, Mr Nze Joe Ibeh, South East while the South-South and South West are represented by Awowo Christian and Professor Damilola Olawuyi respectively.
This is the 5th governing Board to be appointed for NEITI. By the NEITI Act 2007, the Chairman and Members have four-year tenure and are on a part-time basis, while the Executive Secretary has five-year tenure and is on full-time appointment.