By Gregory Mmaduakolam
Key Nigerian agencies have agreed to partner in oil revenue savings and promotion of better attitude to public office.
They are Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and National Orientation Agency (NOA)
A statement by Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, NEITI’s Director of Communications, said on Wednesday in Abuja that the agencies reached the agreement at separate meetings with NEITI Executive Secretary, Mr. Waziri Adio.
According to Adio, the meetings are focused on exploring areas of inter-agency mutual cooperation.
He explained that while NSIA managed the Sovereign Wealth Fund derived from extractive revenues, NOA led the national campaign for attitudinal change and ethical values in the country.
At the meeting with the management of NSIA, the NEITI executive secretary expressed regrets that “the nation’s paltry oil savings defeated the rationale for having such savings in the first place.
“Nigeria does not have enough oil savings to finance even the fifth of a year’s budget at the federal level, not to talk of having enough for investments or for the future generation.”
Adio said that the Occasional Paper recently released by NEITI, largely focused on the “Case for a Robust Oil Saving Fund for Nigeria’’.
He added that in the publication, NEITI drew public attention that Nigeria failed to save enough oil revenues to sustain economic activities when oil prices were quite high.
“From the paper also problematic is the level of consumption relative to non-oil exports. Nigeria typically responds to high oil prices with equally high but manifestly unsustainable level of consumption.
“The absence of sufficient savings left Nigeria severely exposed when the price of oil, Nigeria’s main source of government revenues and foreign exchange, started to plunge in 2014,” Adio said.
He said that the researched publication largely touched on the work of Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority and the managers of Nigeria Sovereign Wealth Fund.
He explained that NEITI’s decision to alert the nation on the need to save for the rainy day was informed by the need for the country to prepare adequately for frequent price volatility, “depletion of non-renewable resources and for future generation’’.
Earlier, the Managing Director of NSIA, Dr Uche Orji, commended NEITI for taking the initiative to produce the paper, adding that it helped NSIA to tell its own story in an independent manner.
According to him, “NEITI has a voice that resonates with policy makers and its other stakeholders. We found the publication exceptional and commendable”.
The NSIA boss said the report was produced without the inputs of his agency.
He described the recommendations in the publication as very succinct and apt.
“We are here to ask for closer collaboration between the NSIA and NEITI in the discharge of our individual mandates while working together for the common good of our country,’’ he added.
The NSIA managing director briefed the NEITI management on what his agency had achieved so far, the prospects of on-going projects and unfolding challenges.
He further explained that the NSIA established frameworks for good corporate governance, risk management, transparency and accountability, adding that the solid governance structure had attracted credible partners, notable investors and private equity funds.
He disclosed that Nigeria’s Governors’ Forum that initially opposed its mandate, was one of its greatest supporters at the moment.
“The 250 million dollars we invested in 2016 came from the state governments’ share of the NLNG dividend.”
Meanwhile, NEITI and NOA are to establish effective platform for collaboration, especially in information sharing, public education and enlightenment.
The Director-General, Dr Garba Abari, announced this when NEITI’s executive secretary visited his office.
Abari announced that 813 offices of NOA would be made available to NEITI as a platform for dissemination of the organisation’s reports to all nooks and crannies of Nigeria. (NAN)