Uche Usim, Abuja and Adewale Sanyaolu
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), has urged the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to erase the impression that its constant engagement with it was a veiled attempt to attack or drag it into politics. Instead, the agency said it was rather in a bid to improve corporate ethics, transparency and accountability in the governance of the nation’s oil and gas industry. The clarification came as Mallam Mele Kyari, the NNPC boss, appealed in a statement to NEITI not to drag it into the murky waters of politics in the guise of requests for information under the Freedom of Information law; insisting that “sometimes the requests are brazenly malicious, and laden with political undertones.
“NNPC finds it difficult to respond to such requests because it is mindful of falling into the trap of being drawn into politics or maligning others”.
But the NEITI Executive Secretary, Waziri Adio in clarifying its operations during a courtesy call on the NNPC GMD, said the impression that its reports are never complete without an attack on NNPC’s operations was a misconception of the agency’s role as an anti-corruption outfit in the oil, gas and mining sector.
Adio said: “We have nothing against the NNPC. We request that it runs an open, transparent and accountable process required to build public trust and citizens’ benefits of the abundant natural resources in the country.”
The Executive Secretary explained that in the last four years, the operations of the NNPC has continued to improve towards openness through the regular publication of its financial reports, but however remarked that a lot still needs to be done in the areas of reforms for the Corporation to compare favourably with similar global organisations around the world.
“We are here on this courtesy visit because the man that has just been appointed is a transparency champion and a long ally known to NEITI. We welcome the appointment of Mele Kyari and his new team and we are ready to work with NNPC in the areas of transparency, accountability and good governance of our natural resources,”. The Executive Secretary advised the new GMD and his team to publish the Corporation’s audited financial reports and expand on what has been achieved so far towards making their operations open and accountable.
He reminded Kyari of the need for the NNPC to take up its full responsibility in the implementation of the new EITI standards on Beneficial Ownership disclosure, Commodity trading, Mainstreaming and application of the 2019 EITI global standard approved recently in Paris.
On public disclosure, Adio urged the Corporation to create an FOI portal on its website to enable it respond real time to request by citizens.
Responding, the Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari, reaffirmed the commitment of the NNPC under his watch to work closely with NEITI, by having mutual respect, partnership and collaboration to enhance transparency and accountability in all its operations.