The global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) has named former Swedish Prime Minister, Fedrik Reinfeldt, as its new Chair, as Clare Short prepares to step down from office next month.
Mr. Reinfeldt emerged at the end of elections recently during the 31st International Board Meeting in Kiev, Ukraine. His election is expected to be ratified in February at the 7th global conference in Lima, Peru.
He would succeed Mrs. Short, a former member of the British House of Commons, whose four-year tenure as Chair of the 50-member world body, would lapse next month.
The out-going EITI Chair is scheduled to pay a farewell visit to Nigeria on February 7 to consult with President Mohammadu Buhari on the need to support and strengthen EITI implementation process in Nigeria by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI.
The Acting Executive Secretary of NEITI, Ogbonnaya Orji, said Mrs. Short’s visit to Nigeria would provide an opportunity to share with the President’s global experiences on how the EITI framework could be used as a tool to fight corruption and reduce poverty in resource-rich countries like Nigeria.
The outgoing Chair would be accompanied on the visit by the incoming Chair, who would hold consultations with top government officials, public and private sector executives, representatives of extractive industry companies and civil society groups.
Mr. Orji, who described the out-going Chair as “an asset to the EITI and close friend of NEITI”, said she used her position to advance the NEITI implementation process in Nigeria.
He was optimistic that the coming of the two EITI top officials to Nigeria would strengthen NEITI’s comprehensive plan to align its mandate in natural resource governance with the on-going reforms in the sector by the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Mr. Reinfeldt, an economist and politician, is a native of Stockholm. Born in 1965, the new EITI Chair, who became the Prime Minister of Sweden in 2006, was the former Chairman of the Liberal Conservative Moderate Party and the last rotating President of the European Council in 2009.
In his acceptance speech after his election, Mr. Reinfeldt said: “Questions about openness, transparency and accountability have always been close to my heart. It is important that the world’s major resources are used in an equitable manner for the benefit of all citizens. I look forward to working with the EITI in parallel with other commitment and lectures.”
Meanwhile, the acting NEITI scribe said Nigeria has nothing to fear over the expiration of the December 31, 2015 deadline by the EITI for Nigeria to publish the NEITI 2013 oil and gas and solid minerals audit reports.
Although Mr. Orji said the reports were ready, he explained that they were presently awaiting the approval of the incoming National Stakeholders Working Group expected to be reconstituted soon, prior to their formal publication.
Besides, he said NEITI’s request for extension of reporting deadline was still receiving attention by the global EITI.
“Nigeria is not in violation of any EITI reporting deadline. Nigeria is not in any danger of validation by the international EITI,” Mr. Orji assured.
He said EITI was currently reviewing the validation process and modalities following divergent views by multi-stakeholders involved in the process, namely civil society groups, implementing countries and investors.
Mr. Orji said at various implementing countries’ meetings in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire and Dakar, Senegal, it was agreed that the validation process should be reformed by the EITI Board, to make it country specific, implementation friendly, progressive and promote country learning experiences and ownership.
The civil society groups, investors and supporting countries equally have their separate views on how the validation process should be conducted in order to achieve the desired impact.
Consequently, the EITI has set up a committee to examine the various views and interests with a view to harmonizing them.
“We expect the EITI Board to come out with a clear position and modalities at its next meeting slated for Lima, Peru in February, 2016. So Nigeria is not in danger over EITI Validation,” Mr Orji said.