The important contributions of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) process and reports should be the creation of awareness and consciousness on the activities of the extractive sector and the implementation of the recommendations into enduring reforms in the extractive sector and the overall natural resource management.
The EITI reports is used in identifying the weakness in the procedural, administrative, policy and legislative framework that governs the extractive sector and general economic management. The reports and recommendations have to some extent contributed to the policy reforms and changes, but subsequent failures in implementing parts of the recommendations have resulted in marginal reforms. We need to scale up our utilisation of the reports by both the demand and supply sides of the accountability chain. The Nigeria EITI process as a case in point have seen a substantial transparency and availability of data and reports but we need to improve our implementation of the reports recommendation to ensure a sustainable and enduring reforms in our opaque extractive sector management.
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has conducted seven reports, six in solid mineral sector and one Federal Allocation and statutory disbursement reports. The reports came with recommendations on how to improve the governance of the sector across the value chain and the management of the economy. Thus, the recommendations on the management of not only natural resources but the country’s economic sector will go a long way improving human development of the citizenry. In addition, the recommendations should guide policy makers on how to improve in the extractive sector management.
According to Mr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, the Director NEITI Communication, Many of the present reforms in the Nigeria oil sector – Including the discontinuation of the oil swap arrangements, review of the fuel subsides, the restructuring of the national oil companies, the review of the contracts and the management of the joint ventures and the recovery of USD 2.4 billion of unpaid taxes and royalties are recommendations from the NEITI audit reports. He further stated that NEITI operations are on course to save Nigerians billions of dollars through better management of the oil and gas sector.
Also the audit reports have ensured an improvement in stakeholders engagement and the numerous laws and policies that are been put in place to ensure the good governance of the extractive sector. In addition, there is an improved work on the remedial issues which will positively impact on the extractive sector .There have been recent administrative, policy and upcoming legislative framework that benefitted from the audit reports and the active participation of the NEITI and other demand driven actors and stakeholders in the extractive sector.
The Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Ministry of Solid Minerals Development and some Agencies through the help of the NEITI reports have initiated policies to sanitize the oil sector in the audit reports. Some of the policies include (1) the 7 big wins (2) the oil sector road map (3) the road map in the solid mineral sector. Also the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (BIGB) being consider by the National Assembly has some of it major content traceable to the NEITI reports. In spite of all the recommendations pointing to reform we still have not scratched the immense benefit from them, thus, there is the need for MDAs, CSOs and stakeholders to begin the aggressive implementation of the NEITI audit report recommendations.
We equally need to revive the Inter ministerial Team on the audit reports. The committee should have a policy backup to be able to effectively implement the different remedial issues raised in the different audit reports. There should also be a deliberate effort to ensure that the representative of different ministries should be people up to the level of permanent secretaries. This will help in the administrative, policy framework that will result in reforms. As for the legislative framework, the stakeholders need to work closely with National assembly.
As a county implementing the EITI process, we have not been able to move from transparency to a progressive accountability regime. These may be as a result of an entrenched interest and governance problem. Moving from Audit to reforms across the value chain should be the aim of all the stakeholders in the extractive sector and the actors in the demand and supply pool towards ensuring the building of a world class extractive sector industry in Nigeria and improvement in the human development index of the citizenry.
For the anticipated reforms to take place ,the different players should not only redouble efforts but should see the maximisation of the benefits of the extractive sector as a must to build a sustainable economic base for the country .
We must realise that transparency does not equate to accountability or reform. We would need to galvanise all the necessary stakeholders to move from report to reform and from Transparency to Accountability.
Paul Ogwu, Publish What You Pay-Nigeria