“The standards also involve disclosures of oil production figures, revenue sharing arrangement between tiers of governments.”
Nigeria is set to commence the full implementation of the new global standards set by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, EITI..
The Chairman of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, National Stakeholders Working Group, Ledum Mitee, said this in Abuja at a training programme for the civil Society organizations on the new standards, processes, methods and benefits.
Mr. Mitee said that the new global standards, which emphasize public disclosures, require owners of oil and mining licenses to make available information and data on their operations through NEITI audit reports.
The standards also involve disclosures of oil production figures, revenue sharing arrangement between tiers of governments, as well as process of awards of contracts in the oil, gas and mining industry.
The revised standards, which equally encourage contract transparency in companies and government, also focus on expenditures incurred by the oil and gas companies on the provision of social services, public infrastructure and fuel subsidy payments.
“As the roles of civil society in the areas of dissemination of NEITI reports and using the reports to hold government and companies to account are key to the success of EITI process, it follows that the impacts of NEITI in the industry depends, to a large extent, on the ability of civil society organizations to use the contents of its reports to initiate debates, discussions, constructive engagements and advocacy for reforms and bring about the change we desire,” Mr. Mitee said.
The Chairman, who called on the Civil Society groups, including the media, to be ready to partner with NEITI in the pursuit of this additional responsibility, urged them to join in the advocacy for the immediate passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Zainab Ahmed, reaffirmed the agency’s commitment to meet all its national and international obligations under its mandate as and when due.
The Fiscal Allocation and Statutory Disbursement Audit covering the period 2007-2011, Mrs. Ahmed said, has been concluded and would soon be made public.
This audit covered actual disbursement of funds accrued to the Federation Account from the oil and gas sector to the three tiers of governments and other agencies of government that directly receive allocations from the federation account.
The audit also tracked actual application of these funds and examined the issues surrounding the payment of 13 per cent derivation revenue to the benefiting states.
Mrs. Ahmed stated that the 2011 audit of the solid minerals sector has also been concluded, while the procurement process for the 2012 audit of the oil and gas sector has commenced and process for 2013 audit in progress.
Re-assuring that NEITI would strive to meet all its reporting obligations on the deadlines set by the global EITI, the Executive Secretary urged civil society groups and the legislature to step up their roles if the impact of NEITI were to be felt in the oil and gas and mining sectors.
“The civil society, legislature and the media must take up their roles in a more robust and aggressive manner now through effective use of NEITI Audit Reports for constructive engagements and advocacy on extractive revenues governance issues with companies and government,” she said.
Meanwhile, the NEITI has said that its major challenge in carrying out its mandate was on addressing the findings and recommendations contained in its independent oil and gas audit reports.
Mr. Mitee said that poor implementation of remedial measures in its audit findings were capable of undermining the chances of Nigerians reaping the benefits of the global initiative.
“If Nigeria is to reap the expected benefits from the EITI process, then NEITI reports must attract the needed implementation backing, by way of legal backing,” he said.
“Since 2004, NEITI has conducted and published four cycles of audit reports in the oil and gas sector. Each of these reports has made profound revelations and also identified several processes and governance lapses in the sector as well as provided appropriate recommendations on how to fix the problems in the sector,” he stated.
Mr. Mitee said the Roundtable was convened by NEITI to harmonise key issues contained in the reports, adding that the meeting was also a forum to map out strategies for urgent implementation of the recommendations.
“The issue of remediation has been of concern to NEITI for a while, and I am happy to report that in December 2013, the Federal Government reconstituted and expanded the platform, Inter-Ministerial Task Team, IMTT, for addressing remediation issues arising from our audit reports,” he added.
Mrs. Ahmed also said that meeting was to set a clear agenda and timelines for implementation.
“There is no doubt that for NEITI impact to be better felt, the remediation issues and recommendations in its audit reports must be adequately addressed. We shall continue to deepen our engagements with the government, companies, media, and civil society as well as strengthening inter-agencies collaboration with a view to address all these remedial issues,” Mrs. Ahmed said.