From Uche Usim, Abuja
Nigeria achieved another international feat at the weekend having been appointed as the Chair of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Global Network on Contract Transparency.
To this end, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji is to Chair the global initiative on behalf of Nigeria.
The appointment was announced by the Country Manager of EITI for Anglophone countries Dr Mike Uzoigwe at the closing ceremony of a week-long knowledge sharing sessions and retreat for management and staff of NEITI held in Abuja.
The EITI global network on Contract Transparency is tasked with the specific responsibility of developing a global framework, standard and tools of engagement on Contract Disclosures in the extractive industries to guide in the 54 member countries of EITI.
‘’The appointment of Nigeria to Chair the EITI global Network on contract transparency is in recognition of the extensive work that NEITI has done to enshrine Contract disclosure as part of its rules of engagement with covered entities in Nigeria.
“I am happy to inform you that Nigeria has accepted the role’’ Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji stated.
Orji noted that the appointment of Nigeria to lead the Global Network is an acknowledgement and recognition of the enormous work and leadership that Nigeria has shown towards the implementation of the EITI over the years.
The global network is made of 2O EITI implementing countries including Nigeria. The countries are Indonesia, Philippines, Mexico, Armenia, Cameroun, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Malawi, Guinea, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Senegal, Sao Tome e’ Principe, Togo, Zambia and Tanzania.
The Executive Secretary explained that, “NEITI remains committed and is in a hurry to deepen the implementation of EITI in Nigeria, improve revenue flows from the extractive sector into government coffers and improve overall governance of the sector to attract investments, create jobs and reduce poverty in the country’.
He added that the Knowledge Sharing sessions/retreat with the theme’’ ‘’Continuity and Consolidation: Linking NEITI Reports to Impact’’ was intended to expose the management and staff of NEITI to the current developments in the extractive sector, generate new information and data required to develop a strategic plan, review the steps being taken by the management to address identified gaps and make projections for the future”.
Orji stated that the focus of NEITI during his tenure is to link the NEITI reports to impacts adding that the retreat provided direction on how this can be achieved. “Nigerians need to understand how NEITI’s interventions lead to improved revenues to government, better profits, business environment for companies, improved quality of lives for citizens in the areas of access to education, jobs, health care, social infrastructure, security of lives and property”.
The EITI Country Manager for Anglophone countries, Dr. Mike Uzoigwe informed participants that the EITI Secretariat is taking the issue of energy transition seriously and urged NEITI to lead the engagement and discussions in the country with stakeholders.
Uzoigwe affirmed the readiness of the EITI to support the Nigerian government in this direction pointing out that Nigeria remains the most elaborate EITI implementing country among 55 member countries through the work of NEITI.
Also speaking at the event, the representative of the Civil Society and the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, disclosed that through the interventions of NEITI, Nigeria has improved operations and governance of its extractive sector.
‘’If we can sustain this, most of the anomalies in the extractive sector will be reduced. Sometimes when NEITI speaks you will think the agency is a Non-Governmental organization. This has endeared the agency to the minds of most Nigerians’’, Rafsanjani said.
He urged the government to replicate the success story of NEITI among other agencies of Government. According to him, ‘It is possible for the Government to replicate the success story of NEITI among all agencies in terms of efficiency,”.
Addressing participants at the session, the representative of the NEITI-Companies Forum, Alhaji Sani Shehu, commended NEITI Management for organizing the retreat urging that the concept of using in house-resource persons was creative and should be sustained and the sessions held regularly. He pledged the support of the NEITI-Companies Forum to NEITI in the discharge of its mandate.
In attendance at the closing ceremony were the former members of NEITI National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG) Otunba Gbenga Onayiga who served as Chair of the Communications Committee and Mr Kolawole Banwo who represented the civil society on the NEITI Board and served as the chair of the civil society steering committee.
The programme was coordinated by the NEITI Director of Planning, Policy and Strategy, Dr. Donald Tyoachimin.