Interest groups and players in the country’s extractive industries have continued to hail President Muhammadu Buhari on his decision to appoint Orji Ogbannanya Orji as the new Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
Until his appointment was announced on Thursday, Mr Orji was the Director of Communications and Advocacy in the transparency and accountability agency.
He succeeds Waziri Adio who completed his five years non-renewable tenure on Thursday.
In the latest series of congratulatory messages on Friday, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC); Public What You Pay (PWYP); OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative; Women in Extractives (WIE), and the Media Initiative on Transparency In Extractive Industries (MITEI) all thanked the President for his choice.
In his message, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mele Kyari, said his management welcomed with delight the news of Mr Orji’s appointment as the Executive Secretary of NEITI.
In the message signed by the NNPC spokesperson, Kennie Obateru, Mr Kyari, applauded the President for what he described “a wonderful decision of appointing Dr. Orji as the Executive Secretary of NEITI to continue the massive reforms currently in progress in the oil and gas industry.”
Mr Kyari described Mr. Orji as “a competent technocrat, EITI expert and resource governance professional, who has been deeply involved in NEITI and NNPC engagements on reforms of the oil and gas industry over the past decade.”
Saying Mr Orji’s appointment was most timely, Mr Kyari noted that as a supporting company of the EITI at the international level, the NNPC was ready to sustain its collaboration with NEITI under Mr. Orji’s leadership in the key areas of the agency’s industry audit process, exchange of information and data, commodity trading, contract transparency, beneficial ownership, mainstreaming and overall oil and gas industry reforms under the EITI/NEITI framework.
He was optimistic that Mr. Orji would help consolidate the gains so far achieved by the NNPC-NEITI Joint Committee on Remediation set up to ensure speedy implementation of all the findings and recommendations contained in NEITI Independent Audit Reports of the oil and gas industry.
On its part, Public What You Pay (PWYP), Nigeria, a civil society advocate on extractive industries transparency said it welcomed with satisfaction the President’s choice of Mr. Orji.
The National Coordinator of PWYP Nigeria, Peter Egbule, described Mr. Orji’s appointment as a sound judgement by the President, which he noted was driven by merit, competence and integrity.
“Dr. Orji has been like an engine room of NEITI, who has been involved in the implementation of global principles and standards of Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Nigeria from its inception.
“As key partners to NEITI, we are delighted that Dr. Orji, an excellent personality, seasoned technocrat, and a resource-governance professional has been appointed to lead NEITI at this time.
“Our organization, and coalition of civil societies in our network will work with him and his team to broaden the base of stakeholders’ engagement in the nation’s extractive industries.
“We however wish to appeal to the President to support this laudable decision of Dr. Orji’s appointment by constituting the NEITI National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG) in no distant future. The constitution of the NSWG (NEITI Board) has become very necessary to ensure that Nigeria’s good standing in the global EITI is further strengthened,” Mr Egbule said.
Also, OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative described Mr. Orji’s appointment as “a square peg in a square hole”, noting that NEITI will achieve highly under his leadership.
OrderPaper Executive Director, Oke Epia, congratulated Mr Orji, saying his extensive experience and expansive exposure were assets that would bring immense value to the leadership and operations of NEITI, “especially at a time of ongoing large-scale reforms of the petroleum industry through the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) being processed at the National Assembly.”
Mr. Epia said Mr Orji’s rich media and public communications background prepares him adequately for the task of driving very important extractive sector reforms anchored on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Standards and principles which NEITI has admirably pushed through the Nigerian space in the last couple of years.
Mr Epia enjoined Mr Orji to take the NEITI flag higher than where his predecessor, Waziri Adio, left off, noting that having been an integral part of the organization since birth, he was sure-footed and prepped up enough to meet and even surpass the expectations of stakeholders in the extractive sectors of the economy.
The Executive Director, Women In Extractives, Faith Nwadishi said she was particularly happy that President Buhari acted promptly to appoint a replacement for the position, describing Mr Orji’s choice as excellent.
“Dr Orji is well and able. He is qualified and he has been in the EITI process from the beginning, and so he brings a lot of experience to bear on the job”, Ms Nwadishi said.
Urging the Federal Government to reconstitute the board of NEITI which has been vacant for almost year, Ms Nwadishi said this would ensure the job of sustaining transparency in the oil and gas, and the solid mineral sector was not hindered.
She charged Mr Orji to hit the ground running and make the EITI process in Nigeria exemplary because of his wide experience in the EITI process.
The National Coordinator of MITEI, Bassey Udo, hailed Mr Orji’s appointment, saying as a professional communications expert and media guru, he would deploy his many years’ experience to expand NEITI’s relationship with the media to deepen the EITI process in Nigeria.
“We commend Mr President for the excellent decision. We congratulate Mr. Orji on the well-deserved appointment. We urge him to use his good offices to deepen NEITI’s interventions in the oil, gas and mining sectors through a wider stakeholders’ engagement and outreach through the media for the overall good of the industry,” Mr Udo said.