The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative ,NEITI has debunked a report that it is too weak to fight corruption.Spokesman of NEITI, Dr Orji Ogbonaya Orji said making such a claim” is a distraction.”He insisted also that NEITI audit reports remain solid and without controversy.
Mohammed Attah, national Coordinator of PRADIN according to Leadership Newspaper “described the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) as an agency under the grip of the political class and lacking in capacity to fully audit the multi-national oil exploration companies”
But NEITI spokesman said “the comment by Mohammed and PRADIN that NEITI is too weak to fight corruption is a distraction and a futile exercise at “bulk-passing” (sic). It will add more value if Mohammed and his group can emulate other CSOs already providing support to NEITI in this complex task.
Orji added that”On the NEITI Audit Reports, I must state that the credibility of NEITI Audit Reports remain solidly on granite. This is because of the uniqueness of the audit process which allows the various government entities and companies to be involved at all stages of the exercise including design of the templates, voluntary supply of information and data, verification and validation of data supplied and sign-off on the report by all covered entities. For Mohammed to insinuate that the Audit Reports are subjects of controversy show that he has a poor knowledge of the NEITI process; there is no such controversy. It never happened.”
Read the full text of NEITI’s reaction below:
THE NEITI PROCESS IS MULTI-STAKEHOLDER DRIVEN
The Comment on Leadership Newspaper of Tuesday April 9th, 2013 credited to the National Coordinator of Procurement Observation and Advocacy Initiative (PRADIN) refers. I wish to thank Mohammed for his opinion. However, his opinion clearly exposed his very limited understanding of the functions of NEITI and poor knowledge of the role of the civil society as critical stakeholders in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative principles and process. Mohammed has to note that one of NEITI’s major responsibilities in the process is to conduct independent audits to establish what companies have paid to government in terms of royalty, taxes, levies, signature bonuses, and sales from equity crude etc. The audits also establish what government receives as revenues, if government received what it ought to receive and if companies paid what they ought to pay.
NEITI is equally required by law to widely disseminate the vital information and data on the findings and recommendations and place same information and data in the public domain. It is important to clarify that it is the function of the civil society organisations like PRADIN which Mohammed represents to use this information and data made public by NEITI to hold government and companies to account. This has been a huge challenge. Given the fact that the NEITI process requires a multi-stakeholders approach to yield desired impacts, the role of the civil society becomes a critical success factor. This is why NEITI has continued to work with interested CSOs to build their capacity to assume this statutory role in the NEITI process.
NEITI has conducted 4 cycles of comprehensive audits in the oil and gas sector since it was established; the findings and recommendations of these audits which are not only far reaching but incisive have been widely published and disseminated. The Reports are currently available on NEITI website www.neiti.org.ng.
I do not know what a CSO like PRADIN has done to use this information and data as tools to hold government and companies to account through constructive advocacy for remediation. For avoidance of doubt, it is the responsibility of the civil society to use NEITI Audit Reports to ask informed questions, initiate debates, dialogue and public discourse on issues of transparency, accountability and good governance of Nigeria’s extractive industries resources. While appreciating the passionate drive and contributions of some CSOs who have been working with NEITI in this direction, the comment by Mohammed and PRADIN that NEITI is too weak to fight corruption is a distraction and a futile exercise at “bulk-passing”. It will add more value if Mohammed and his group can emulate other CSOs already providing support to NEITI in this complex task.
On the NEITI Audit Reports, I must state that the credibility of NEITI Audit Reports remain solidly on granite. This is because of the uniqueness of the audit process which allows the various government entities and companies to be involved at all stages of the exercise including design of the templates, voluntary supply of information and data, verification and validation of data supplied and sign-off on the report by all covered entities. For Mohammed to insinuate that the Audit Reports are subjects of controversy show that he has a poor knowledge of the NEITI process; there is no such controversy. It never happened.
On the PIB, NEITI carefully studied the Bill as soon as it was sent to the National Assembly and convened a national stakeholder’s forum on the draft legislation in Lagos on the 20th-21st September, 2012. The Forum which was attended by CSOs, companies, governments and legislators collectively weighed the PIB provisions on the scale of transparency, accountability and good governance and identified several gaps. The position of NEITI on the PIB which is already being analysed in the media was forwarded to the National Assembly since the 21st of March 2013. NEITI is also ready and willing to defend its position if and when invited to do so by the National Assembly.
Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, PhD
NEITI, Director, Communications
Read the PRADIN comment as reported by Leadership:
NEITI Too Weak To Fight Corruption – PRADIN
(LEADERSHIP )Tue, 09/04/2013 – 2:11am | CHIKA IZUORA
The National Coordinator of the Procurement Observation and Advocacy Initiative (PRADIN), Mohammed Bougei Attah, has described the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) as an agency under the grip of the political class and lacking in capacity to fully audit the multi-national oil exploration companies.
While arguing that NEITI has been incapacitated as a result, Attah said the agency was supposed to be guided by the principles and criteria which provide a standard for promoting transparency in the oil and gas and mining sectors through the publishing of payments by companies and revenues received by governments.
Speaking with our correspondent on the inability of NEITI to indict multinational companies, Mohammed stated that the key issue has to do with capacity, adding that previous audits done by the agency were seriously challenged and the most recent selection of auditors for its 2005 to 2009 audits was still a subject of controversy.
On the issue of the recovery of royalties due to government from the multi-nationals, he explained that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in its present form undermined the role of NEITI thereby rendering the entire transparency work useless.
“Section one of the entire Bill seeks to recognise only agencies created by the Bill. This on its own is anti-people because we all agreed that over 70 per cent of the national revenue is generated from oil and NEITI is the sole agency for now that is mandated to oversee the activities of the oil sector. The 2005 reports of the audit of the oil and gas sector by NEITI show corruption, lack of capacity, lack of transparency and accountability in the management of oil and gas resources in the country,” he said.
Giving further details, he noted that ‘Section 149 of the PIB states that “the National Oil Company (NOC) shall not be subject to Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) and the Public Procurement Act (PPA) 2007.
“Yet the PIB seeks to address the issue of transparency and accountability in the oil industry. Can this be achieved without measuring its activities with the accountability processes? There is a deliberate effort to legalise shady procurement practices in the NOC,” he said.
Attah regretted that this was against the spirit of transparency and accountability which the Bill seeks to achieve, noting that the provision alone rendered the entire Bill useless.
He said: “ The only way out is to expunge the section or replace with the word “the National Oil Company (NOC) shall subject to Fiscal Responsibility Act and Public Procurement Act 2007. Anything short of this cannot.