By Edith Ike-Eboh
The Executive Director Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC), Malam Auwal Ibrahim has urged all stakeholders to support efforts that would drive transparency in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria.
Ibrahim made this know at an Interface Session between Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Anti- Graft Agencies and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), in Abuja, on Wednesday.
“The importance of the oil and gas sector to our economy cannot be over stated as the bulk of the revenue and foreign exchange needs of the nation’s economy depended on it.
“The notoriety that the extractive sector assumed overtime due to the secrecy of operation and recurrent instances of corruption is also common knowledge.
“The establishment of the Nigeria Extractive Transparency Initiative, NEITI with an enabling law in 2007 ushered in a phase of transparency and accountability in the erstwhile closed sector,’’ he said .
According to him, stakeholders are in agreement that remediation, which is the responsibility of the respective Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs), have been the weakest link in the NEITI implementation process.
He said that it was unfortunate that stakeholders were yet to meet the demands in remediation that needed to be addressed.
He said that efforts were made to build a network of multiple stakeholders to give effect to some remedial actions as a way of strengthening the accountability in the sector by invoking sanctions where possible.
This, he said had not been fully implemented.
“This collaborative and complementary approach, if well carried out, will impact positively on the NEITI implementation process by bringing defaulting stakeholders to account and serving as a deterrent which then results in improvement in the management of the extractive sector.
“It will equally promote judicious use of the accruing revenues and translate to improved welfare of the citizens.
“This is one of the main reasons for this interface session. Unless remedial actions are effectively implemented and defaulting stakeholders are made to account, transparency will not amount to much and unless there is stronger inter agency collaboration, the limitations would persist,’’ he added.
He further requested that stakeholders should have frank and robust conversation, be realistic in expectations and be proactive.
In his presentation, Dr Orji ogbonnaya, Director, Communications and Advocacy, NEITI said that NEITI need the support of all relevant stakeholders to effectively carry out its duties.
He said that over the years, NEITI had published its reports and exposed some of the hidden issues in the extractive industry in the country.
He said that the act establishing NEITI did not empower it to prosecute or do so many things, hence the collaboration of all anti –graft agencies was imperative.
Ogbonnaya said that presently, NEITI had focused on 2016 to 2017 audit reports in the solid minerals and oil and gas sector with much emphasis on commodity trading.
“We are looking at who is buying our oil, at what price, their locations, transparency in doing the business and who are the owners of oil blocs and their names.
“Also, terrorism financing, the quantity of oil producing in Nigeria, among many other issues,’’ he said.
He said that it was unfortunate that many anti-corruption agency invited for the were absecent and urged them to be more committed in drive for economic development of Nigeria.(NAN)