Sunday, April 20, 2014

Emulate European nations, Canada on extractive industry transparency, group tells Nigeria

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Publish What You Pay says Nigeria should pass a law to compel extractive companies report on revenue payments.

Publish What You Pay, PWYP, Nigeria, the coalition of civil society organizations committed to the promotion of transparency in extractive industries, has urged Nigeria to emulate Canada and other European nations in passing a law that would make it mandatory for the country’s extractive industries to report on revenue payments.

The European parliament recently followed the footsteps of the U.S. Congress by voting to approve a law making it mandatory for oil, gas and mining industry operators to disclose details of payments for their activities to the government as a way of promoting transparency and accountability in the management of natural resource revenues.

The National Coordinator, PWYP Nigeria, Faith Nwadishi, said the group is excited that the huge veil of non-disclosure by European and American oil, gas, and mining companies has finally been removed to lighten the burden of advocacy for the extractive industry transparency.

Ms. Nwadishi, who is also an Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, EITI, International Board member, said the obstacle of non-disclosure by a couple of European oil companies in Nigeria’s extractive industry has remained a major advocacy challenge to the PWYP Nigeria agenda to contribute to the realization of full transparency in the country’s extractive industry.

“This all important vote is not only a vote for a disclosure law, but a victory to global transparency and humanity,” Ms. Nwadishi said.

“We appreciate this law more than European countries, because Nigeria is home for a large number of European companies that are engaged in huge extractive business, which is Nigeria’s economic mainstay.

“From now on, the challenges experienced trying to ensure compliance by European companies operating in Nigeria will now be a thing of the past, as this new law obviously strengthens the NEITI (Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative) and other transparency laws in Nigeria.”

Referring to the new law as a “huge reinforcement to local laws as well as motivation to PWYP Nigeria,” Ms. Nwadishi said it would act as a booster to the ongoing economic reform agenda of the current administration’s effort to promote accountability as well as provide civil society groups working on transparency in the extractive industry the required impetus to push for the oil order to be consigned to history.

After the landmark EITI agenda in 2002 that pushed for the world’s resource rich countries to embrace the principles of transparency, accountability and openness in the management of the revenues from their operations, she said the world has again made a tremendous advancement in the global effort to promote extractive industry transparency and development through improved reporting in the industry.

While commending the European Parliament for its achievement, which she said was akin to the reproduction and expansion of the motive behind the NEITI Act, the EITI Board member pointed out that civil society organizations would be further motivated by a more comprehensive law that would advocate for its strict compliance by European oil, gas and mining industries operators in the Nigeria.

“The Nigeria extractive industry lack of transparency has been identified as a major setback to the sustainable development of Nigeria. The advancement in extractive transparency mandatory disclosure law will remain a landmark to humanity in many years to come,” she said, adding that PWYP demands that all European oil, gas and mining companies should be encouraged to embrace the new law and the spirit behind it.

She expressed hope that the new law would contribute to increased revenue profile of the resource rich states in the Niger Delta region, where more than 80 per cent of Nigeria’s annual revenue are generated through oil and gas production and exports. Ms. Nwadishi pointed out that with greater transparency, more revenue would become available to redress national development challenges, which led to the armed militancy in the region in recent times.

She said the new law also imposes fresh challenges on Nigeria, which has already taken giant strides in the EITI implementation, to do more, especially as it is one of the champions of global extractive industry transparency. Ms. Nwadishi urged the National Assembly to emulate the European Parliament by ensuring that the principles of these laws are captured in the proposed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) currently pending before it for approval.

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