By Jim Pressman
A new Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) Board is to be inaugurated Wednesday August 22, even as NEITI is putting finishing touches to its latest Audit Report. It is also coming up with an Audit Report on Resource Allocation and Utilization in Governance and engaging the state governors henceforth in order to arrive at State NEITI Audit Reports, in a bid to push further the frontiers of transparency and accountability and to optimize citizen’s welfare in the country.
Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, made the disclosures in a keynote address she presented at the formal inauguration in Abuja of a new Civil Society Organization (CSO) named Media Initiative for Transparency in Extractive Industries (MITEI), and a Roundtable.
In attendance alongside the founding members led by its National Coordinator, Collins Olayinka, were the immediate past Chairman of the NEITI Board, Professor Assisi Asobie, who assisted the group every way through the formative stages and who had an incisive, 4-page opening remark at the session.Also, this reporter, stood in for Ms. Ene Ede of Equity Advocates/Gender on the Balance and Ms. Faith Nwadishi, CEO of the CSO Pay What You Publish (PWYP), Benin City, who were both unavoidably absent.
NEITI boss Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, in her keynote address on “The Role of the Media in Promoting Transparency and Accountability In Extractive Industries in Nigeria,” expressed joy at the opportunity to share her thoughts with the audience on media’s place in implementation of EITI in Nigeria, and happiness at the birth of MITEI, which she described as timely and important. Also present at the inauguration were the World Bank Country Director Marie Françoise Marie-Nelly, who spoke off-the-cuffs, suggested a further streamlining of the MITEI brief, to make it less cumbersome. She was accompanied by Obadiah Tohomdet, Senior Communications Expert at the World Bank.
She traced the genesis of NEITI in Nigeria from her signing on to EITI November 2007, noting that one of the greatest challenges has had to contend with is the dissemination and use of NEITI audit reports to hold government and companies to account, the reports being technical and therefore often difficult to understand, even for those who should interpret and disseminate.
NEITI, Ahmed stressed, “has relied over the years on informed Media Advocacy and support to engage government and companies in all of its activities… aware that (through this partnership) its roles, expected benefits, derivable impacts in areas of poverty reduction and improved citizens’ welfare can only be better achieved through stronger links with the media. NEITI needs the media to champion the remedial programmes, take the audit reports to the nooks and crannies of the country.”
She looks forward to similar partnership with, and hopes that MITEI will relate with NEITI in a mutually beneficial and constructive manner within the highest ethical standards.
The NEITI Executive Secretary then listed some of the major roles MITEI will be expected to play in the EITI process in Nigeria:
- Serve as a strong independent platform for effective dissemination of NEITI Audit Reports
- Serve as an independent platform for block feedback
- Provide a complementary platform for social mobilization
- Serve as a specialized media arm in the overall NEITI Multi-stakeholder engagements, and
- Provide supportive and necessary bridge to enhance NEITI’s partnership with the Media on Extractive Industries issues
A full report of the Roundtable expected to be sent to participants, was not yet available at the time of this report.
Jim Pressman is the Media Rep., NEITI/CSO Steering C’ttee