Why NEITI NSWG Must Be Insulated From Dissolution -Dr. Orji


The Executive Secretary, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Ori has given the reasons why the NEITI Board otherwise called National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG) must be insulated from dissolution.

Dr. Orji gave some of the reasons while briefing newsmen at the NEITI House in Abuja on Friday, January 26, 2024, on the visit of the global EITI to Nigeria.

Recall that the NSWG which was dissolved over six months ago by President Bola Tinubu, is yet to be reconstituted. It was dissolved alongside 151 other boards of the Federal Government Parastatals, Agencies, Institutions, and Government-owned Companies in June last year.

Speaking, Dr. Orji said, the NEITI structure should be devoid of political interference, adding, apart from the fact that the dissolution of the NSWG would affect the global validation of the country, the NSWG belong to a strong Multi-stakeholders Group, with a structure Secretariat as condition for Membership.

He explained: “to preserve the NEITI structure is a major concern which they have brought. The NEITI structure should be devoid of Political Interference. Each time you dissolve the National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG) is a major problem for us.

“You had them say we could have scored less if not that the validation was concluded before that time. We are therefore, happy that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation has assured us that he will bring this matter urgently to the attention of Mr. President to address.

“We also think that this is an opportunity to see how NEITI can be insulated from those kind of dissolution of Federal Boards because we are actually National Stakeholders Working Group, an existence of a strong Multi-stakeholders Group, with a structured Secretariat as conditions for Membership of that body. It has 57 members”, he noted.

The NEITI boss who described the visit of the international partner as timely, said, they came at a time when the agency was trying to align it operations and mandates to the renewed hope agenda of the present administration.

“We can’t function in isolation, the priorities, strategic and development goals of the new administration, which we have properly aligned in our work plan’’, Dr. Orji said.

He disclosed that the agency was working very hard, assuring that by September 2024, it will be publishing two audit reports, covering 2022 and 2023.

“The goal is to make sure that from now on our data is current, reliable and globally acceptable’’, he added.

The ES further disclosed that the agency “had engagement with the National Assembly on the review of the NEITI Act and we equally received assurances that this will be taken seriously.

“The whole issue is to align the NEITI Act with the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and to align it with the current economic realities of our government, which is focusing more on revenue.

“And again, to look at the EITI Standard that was agreed upon in Senegal. The EITI 2023 Standard, and the emerging issues in global EITI; energy transition, beneficial ownership, open and accessible data, climate change, gender inclusiveness and environment.

“There a number of areas where the law is deficient, and we have identified those areas. We also want to see what could be done to make NEITI less dependent on government for funding to see if there are windows where our reports that usually lead to recovery of huge revenue where we could also be given some soft landing in terms of supporting government for fund instead of relying wholly on government.

“We have done an in-house review of that Act, but we are seeking legal opinions, consultants are working on it and we are also working with the members of the National Assembly to see what they can do to help us.

“But this visit was very productive and we will like to thank the CAC, NUPRC, NNPCL, Members in the National Assembly, government at the level of NTF, for the wonder time and reception they gave”, he said.

Earlier, the leader of the delegation, and the Deputy Head of EITI Secretariat, Mr. Mamadou Bady Balde, tasked NEITI on the timely publication of data, siting example of countries like Senegal, Zambia, Norway that have gone ahead with timely publication of data.

He said, the objective of the visit was to communicate to stakeholders as well as the Nigerian government the outcome of the validation exercise for Nigeria and to highlight some of the areas of key recommendations made in the corrective actions.

Balde also noted that the reconstitution of the NEITI Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG) was of much concern to the EITI because it was at the core of the EITI process.

Nigeria scored 72 points over 100 in December 2023 to scale through the final global assessment which lasted for over a period of 11 months for the implementation of the EITI in the country.

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