FG Never Interfere In Our Independence, Operations -NEITI Boss

The Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji has disclosed that the Federal Government under the past and present administrations had never interfered in the agency’s independence and operations.

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Dr. Orji who disclosed this during a Media parley on Monday in Abuja, expressed hope that such a level of independence continues for the betterment of the industry.

He noted that the agency was open to advice, criticism, and engagements but those should be constructive, balanced, and fair.

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“We use this opportunity to appeal to all the media organisations in Nigeria that as a transparency organisation, we are open to constructive criticism.

“We are open to advice, we are open to engagements, but we would like those engagements to be constructive, balanced, and fair.

“We in NEITI are not enemies to companies, we in NEITI are not enemies to Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), we in NEITI are not enemies to the government, in fact, government fund 99.9% of our operations, so government is our backbone.

“There are three major stakeholders in the EITI process, the companies, the civil society, and the government. Each of these partners sustains our operations.

“But in the midst of these, we asked each of our partners to help sustain our voice and our independence.

“And I am very grateful that the government of Nigeria has always allowed us to be, they never interfere in our operations both past and present, and we hope this will continue”, he said.

He said, some companies have also given the agency enormous cooperation. “In fact, a company, Chevron just informed us of their voluntary willingness to sign on as a supporting company of the EITI, Seplat has also offered to join the EITI process and others as a result of the work we do.

“And we have given them guidelines, and what is required to be a member of the EITI both at the national and international levels.

“It is not enough to be a member at the international level and come here and do things differently. If you are an international member, we have to domesticate it by working closely with NEITI”, he said.

While speaking on some of the agency’s achievements during the year, Dr. Orji said, the NEITI has achieved a lot especially, scaling through the final global assessment of the implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) process in the country.

“We have achieved a lot during this year. We went through turbulent validation and we came out with 72 over 100.

“But more importantly to me as the Executive Secretary, and members of my team, are the observations made during the validation. How do we improve in those areas? By focusing on improving those areas we could have done better next year.

“One of them is deepening our engagement with the Civil Society. Deepening our engagement with the oil and gas companies, and human capacity development. Strengthening our internal processes.

“Our processes are very strong but they are not perfect. We will also look inwards and strengthen our capabilities and abilities to implement the EITI.

“We have already started by injecting the younger ones into our workforce, but they require a lot of training and retraining, even those in the management cadre need exposure to training.

“We will strengthen our ethical conduct.
To be sure that what we do is what we preach. We will look inwards to see the areas we need to improve and look outside to see the areas we need to consolidate”, the ES assured.

He reaffirmed the commitment of the Federal Government to the implementation of the EITI in Nigeria, therefore, thanked President Bola Tinubu and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator George Akume for their continued support.

He expressed hope that the NEITI Board which was dissolved, would be reconstituted soon.

“We are working closely with the administration especially, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF). Speaking on behalf of the President had given me assurances that our board which was unfortunately affected by the dissolution of the Federal Boards would soon be reconstituted.

“It was one of the challenges we had during the year, working without a board. We want to commend the SGF office, the SGF himself, Senator George Akume for all his support and through him convey our appreciation to the President for all their support since I came on board.

“We hope that we will be working to deepen our engagement with the government, Civil Societies, the companies, and the Media”, he said.

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