Stories by Svlester Enoghase / Snr Correspondent Lagos
In a bid to ensure that public accountability is the magic wand that can transform natural resource wealth into sustainable development and revenue transparency into efficient public financial management, a group of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and media have called on the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) to build capacities of critical government agencies for a robust industry in Nigeria.
This call was made during a one day media Interaction on re mediation and Inter Ministerial Task Team activities (IMTT) organised by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) with the support from Oxfam Novib in Top Rank Galaxy hotel Abuja.
The interaction featured 34 participants drawn from members of the media in the extractives industry, Civil Society Organisations, NEITI, representative of the CSO Chair on the Civil Society Steering Committee, and NGOs to review activities in the oil and gas industry as well as the implementation of the recommendations contained in the NEITI audit reports.
The group observed that NEITI has conducted and published four cycles of audit reports and the Fiscal Allocation and Statutory Disbursement (FASD) audit in the oil and gas sector and each of these reports have made profound revelations and also identified several processes and governance lapses in the sector as well as provide appropriate recommendations on how to fix the problems in the sector.
Therefore, the group recommended that all Stakeholders in the Extractive Industry including members of the Inter Ministerial Task Team, CSOs, Media should take up the challenge of providing strong partnerships, cooperation and collaboration with NEITI towards full implementation of already developed comprehensive re-mediation plan.
While the group observed that poverty index in Nigeria has grown in geometric progression since the domestication of the EITI process raising concern on the veracity and courage of the NEITI audits, it therefore recommended that the Executive should as a matter of urgency give accent policy arrangements for monitoring and measuring gas and liquids from well-heads to export terminals as a panacea for a more sustainable development, wealth creation and poverty reduction amongst our citizens.
According to the group, the issue of re-mediation has been of concern to all stakeholders in the industry as poor implementation of remedial issues in its finding is capable of undermining the chances of Nigerians reaping the benefits of the global initiative, and therefore insisted that the Inter-Ministerial Task Team (IMIT) comprising of heads of some Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, regulators, financial institutions and extractive industries operators (companies) should activate its responsibility of implementing the findings and recommendations.
On how the role of the National Assembly (NASS) is central to the implementation of the NEITI recommendations through various platforms such as public hearings as well as adequate budgetary allocation to the agency for efficiency, the group called on the Legislature to demonstrate commitment towards remedial issues identified in the NEITI Audits such as physical, financial and process lapses and provide necessary legislative interventions.
“This is in addition to the use of information and data in the report as tools for debate in both chambers. It is therefore important for legislators at all level especially those at the 8th National Assembly to be fully briefed on NEITI objectives, processes, benefits, challenges and the provisions of NEITI,” the group stressed.
On why the activities of the IMTT are greatly hindered due to lack of political will, resistance by regulatory bodies, poor human resources development and Non-passage of the Petroleum Industries Bill (PIB), the group insisted that the Civil Society Steering Committee as the clearing House of NEITI, especially on Re-mediation issues, need to partner and engage with funding agencies to accomplish the set objective of addressing the six prioritised Remedial issues within the next two years.
Arguing that the success of any social accountability and transparency initiative is dependent on the extent of interaction, synergy and deliberate interface between the civil society and the government.
The group stressed the need for collective efforts by civil society organisations and media to build synergy and advocacy messages that will name and shame those undermining efforts of public accountability and transparent Public Finance Management.
The Participants however thanked CISLAC with the support from Oxfam for providing the platform for engagement and resolved to continue to respond to weak arrangement around the domestic crude Oil allocation, opaque and lease awards process.
Source : Independent