From Uche Usim, Abuja
The newly-appointed Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji on Tuesday revealed that policies and strategies that would ensure that all statutory recoverable revenues due to government which is put at N69.51 billion and $5.31billion respectively are duly recovered into appropriate government coffers.
Speaking at his maiden interface with journalists in Abuja, Orji explained that the recoverable revenues, as captured in the 2018 NEITI audit report, consist of payments on oil royalty, gas royalty, gas flare penalties, petroleum profit tax, company income tax, education tax, withholding tax, value added tax and NDDC levy.
He said: “We are no longer comfortable just releasing reports. Our emphasis will be on these and other recoverable revenues due to government while ensuring that companies are treated fairly and given the opportunity to grow. NEITI will unveil a framework that will involve stakeholders in this process.
“Joint Committees between NEITI and respective covered entities will be established to look at the issues as it affects individual agencies. The joint committees will be similar to the one established between the NEITI and the NNPC and is without prejudice to the revitalization of the Inter Ministerial Task Team on remediation as a multi-sectoral approach”.
Orji added that since 2004 when Nigeria began the implementation of the EITI, the expectation was that transparency and public disclosure of information and data in the extractive sector will lead to accountability, poverty reduction and national development.
“This has not been the case. While NEITI has put in the public domain, accurate and verifiable information and data on the sector, the challenge as we all can see is on using the information to bring about accountability and change that would lead to positive visible impacts in the lives of the citizens. It is time to revisit the scope, depth and dimension of our reports to deliver more impacts required to address the unfolding challenges. “This is why my focus will be on the implementation of the remedial issues disclosed in the reports.
Deeper engagement with the companies and exposure to their peculiar business models and operations will be deployed. The approach will create opportunities for NEITI to appreciate their locations, peculiar nature of their operations and workflow. The essence is to build trust, knowledge sharing and technical capability.
“One important area that NEITI will focus on going forward is the mining sector, giving the global conversation on energy transition. Since the inception of NEITI audit of the solid minerals sector, there has been a steady increase in revenues accruable to the federation account from the sector. From a paltry N8.19billion recorded in the 2007 audit, to over N67 billion earned from the sector in 2018, shows over a 900% increase. A mere 0.18% contribution of the sector to the GDP, shows that a lot more needs to happen in Nigeria’s mining sector. We will therefore conduct fresh scoping studies on mining paying particular attention to investment opportunities in the sector. We will take the lead in assisting government to have a fallback position as renewable energy and its attendant consequences gets underway”, he added.
Orji also disclosed that a major task for NEITI on his watch would be the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and broadening and deepening the base of stakeholders.