COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED AT A ROUNDTABLE WITH RELEVANT HOUSE COMMITTEES ON THE NIGERIA EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRY TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE (NEITI) PROCESS HELD ON THE 11TH DECEMBER, 2012 IN MEETING ROOM 144, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY COMPLEX, ABUJA
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC with support from Pact-Nigeria, organized a roundtable meeting involving relevant Committees of the House of Representatives on the implementation of the NEITI process and emerging issues. The roundtable was attended by 40 participants, including some Chairmen and members of the House Committees on Petroleum Upstream, Downstream, Gas Resources, Solid Minerals and Public Accounts,
the Executive Secretary and staff of NEITI, CSOs and the Media. Presentations were made on the proposed “Fiscal Allocation and Statutory Disbursement Audit” by the Executive Secretary of NEITI Hajia Zainab Ahmed, “The NEITI process, the Petroleum Industry Bill and Transparency in the Extractive Industry” by Dauda Garuba and “Financial Secrecy and Leakages in the Extractive Sector” by Kolawole Banwo. The discussions after the presentations were frank, robust and constructively engaging.
The meeting made the following observations:
1. NEITI has demonstrated commitment and forthrightness in the fight for transparency and accountability in spite of the odds militating against its operations
2. The corruption and sleaze revealed by the several probes in the petroleum sector would have been forestalled had the recommendations in the 10 years of NEITI audit reports been implemented
3. The Federal Executive Council (FEC) approval of Fiscal Allocation and Statutory Disbursement Audit is a welcome development in the NEITI process
4. NEITI is presently confronted with the challenge of underfunding, and this has the potential of affecting its independence and its ability to perform effectively
5. There has been an appreciable improvement in legislative support for the implementation of the NEITI process
6. The PIB 2012 as currently before the National Assembly (NASS) does not align with the Nigerian Oil and Gas Policy 2005, especially when measured against the Federal Government’s vision of spinning off its direct running of the oil and gas economy and the overbearing powers being proposed to be wielded by the Minister of Petroleum Resources. Also, it does not sufficiently protect the interest of Nigerians, especially when measuring the clauses that relate to fiscal regime, transparency, exemption from applicability of Fiscal Responsibility and Public Procurement Acts 2007 and discretionary powers of the President and the Minister of Petroleum Resources against international best practices on oil block licensing, bidding, contracting, acquisition of acreages, payments of taxes, royalties and signature bonuses.
7. The overdependence of Nigeria on oil remains an albatross for development, given how it fuels corruption, conflicts and national disharmony among the citizenry
Consequent on the above observations, the following resolutions were reached:
1. Stakeholders will continue to collaborate and provide NEITI and its Board with the support it deserves to enable it successfully carry out the Fiscal Allocation and Statutory Disbursement Audit billed to happen in 2013
2. The National Assembly will, in appreciation of the good work NEITI is doing, support and strengthen its capacity to be independent and to deliver on its mandate by acceding to its budgetary needs.
3. The National Assembly, working with other stakeholders in civil society and the media, will intensify its efforts to ensure the implementation of the recommendations contain in the NEITI audit reports to enable Nigeria maximise the full benefits from its extractive resources.
4. The legislature, NEITI and civil society will continue to forge closer collaboration on the EITI implementation in Nigeria with a view to building on the successes recorded till date for purposes of achieving greater results.
5. The House of Representatives will ensure a close scrutiny of the Petroleum Industry Bill 2012 with a view to ensuring that all interested stakeholders – including the NEITI Secretariat and civil society – are allowed equal opportunities to make inputs into the Bill as well as ensure that such inputs actually count at the passage of the bill.
6. There is the urgent need for the Federal Government to aggressively pursue an economic diversification policy to ensure equal opportunities, improved welfare and peaceful co-existence and sustainable development for all Nigerians.
The participants at the meeting commended CISLAC for organizing the roundtable and Pact-Nigeria for the facilitating roundtable. It was unanimously concluded that the event was very useful and have enhanced robust engagement between members of the House, the NEITI secretariat and the Civil Society. Participants made a commitment to continue to collaborate until natural resources and the benefit that accrue from them translate into poverty reduction, improved welfare and sustainable development for the citizenry.
Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani),
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre
Revenue Watch Institute (RWI)
Nigeria Office, AbujaNo tags for this post.