Nigeria ‘confident ahead second EITI assessment’

Waziri Adio
Waziri Adio

Nigeria says its eyes are set on high performance as the second Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) validation exercise begins next Monday.

Validation is the process of assessing the level of progress attained by the 51 member countries of the global EITI in compliance with its reporting standards and operational processes aimed at promoting transparency and accountability.

The Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Waziri Adio, told a select group of journalists at a pre-validation briefing in Abuja on Thursday the country has done enough for a positive validation assessment next week.

Although the validation process commenced on Wednesday with preliminary assessment of the online report filed by NEITI on its activities, Mr Adio said officials of the global transparency group are expected in Nigeria on Monday for the actual validation exercise.

During the exercise, which will last till July 18, the EITI validation team will hold consultative meetings with key interest groups in the country to assess the level of compliance.

The validation exercise, which holds every three years, is to give EITI opportunity to assess the level of progress recorded, by way of improvements by a compliant country in its processes to promote transparency and accountability.

Nigeria was one of the first set of countries to undergo validation since joining the group in 2004.

The country was adjudged one of the best in 2016, with overall assessment of making “meaningful progress” in compliance to EITI reporting standards.

Countries adjudged to have made“no progress” since the previous validation are liable for de-listing.

Other validation statuses included “inadequate progress”, “meaningful progress”, “satisfactory progress” or “beyond satisfactory progress.”

Of the 27 countries assessed during the first validation exercise in 2010, only four (Philippines, Timor-Leste, Mongolia and Senegal) achieved satisfactory progress status.

The EITI named Colombia as the latest country to attain that status recently having made significant progress in all 33 indicators spelt out by the EITI.

At the end of the 2016 validation exercise, Nigeria, which was adjudged the first country to exceed the reporting standards set for oil and gas audit reporting, was asked to carry out 16 corrective actions in its reporting assessment.

The 16 actions covered three key areas, namely civil society engagement, requiring the development and implementation of an action plan; Board constitution, requiring a process of nominating and appointment of members of the National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG).

The other corrective measures included safeguard provisions on government, companies and civil society participation as well as timely reporting of annual audit processes.

“Nigeria has carried out the corrective actions identified in 2016,” Mr Adio said. “We are confident the country has done all we needed to do to attain satisfactory progress status.

“I can report to you that in close to 30 months since I assumed office as the Executive Secretary of NEITI, we have not had reason to be directed by government or anybody on what to do or not.

“Our audit reporting has not only been timely, but has been adjudged the most comprehensive, as it has to meet both the EITI standards and the standards set by the NEITI Act.

“Our Board is working, while civil society groups are not only more organized, but more involved in the implementation of their work plans to promote transparency and accountability.”

When EITI began in 2003, to promote the principle of transparency and accountability in resource-rich countries, multi-stakeholder groups (MSG) of member-countries were encouraged to undertake only self-assessment of adherence to the EITI Standard.

The initial focus of validation was reporting only what revenues operating companies were paying, but what revenues government was receiving.

Over the years, validation moved to compliance with a global standard of reporting by member-countries covering multi-stakeholder group oversight, licensing and contracts, production monitoring, revenue collection and allocation, socio-economic contribution as well as impacts and outcomes.

Mr Adio however expressed concern that out of the 26 criteria used in the validation exercise, those focusing on quality outcomes and impact on the lives of the people are very limited.

He said NEITI was making a strong case for more attention to be given to the outcomes and impact on the peoples’ lives in assessing the progress made by EITI member nations.

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