With the mining sector accounting for less than one percent of Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP), imbibing transparency and accountability by all operators would guarantee improved value addition to the economy, the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has said.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, stated this while receiving a delegation from Miners Association of Nigeria led by its President, Dele Ayanleke, during a visit to NEITI headquarters in Abuja on Friday.
Soliciting stronger partnership between mining companies in the exploitation of the natural resources in the sector, Orji emphasised the importance of prudent management of the extractive industry revenues through the strict adherence to transparency and accountability principles.
“In view of our renewed hope and renewed commitment to deepen our engagement with Mining Companies, considering the Federal Government’s attention to the solid minerals sector, we are passionate about our relationship with the Mining Companies, because they define NEITI’s scope of engagement with the solid mineral industry.
“The Mining Association defines the essence of the level of revenue generation in the industry, as regards government take, companies profit and the level of investments that can flow into the industry”. Orji said.
As the offshoot of the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), he said the NEITI would stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with the mining companies as the third leg in the EITI tripod of government and civil society in no particular order.
The role of NEITI, he emphasised, was in the engagement with the mining companies to draw national and international attention on best ways to do business in the areas of transparency and accountability to generate profit for the companies in a transparent and accountable manner and provide improved revenue generation for the government to be able to meet its obligations to the citizens through the provision of much needed infrastructure to support national development and growth.
In implementing the EITI, as one of the 54 compliant countries, Orji said Nigeria must strive to ensure the processes were clear, adding that when the business environment was characterised by acrimony, violence, insecurity and conflicts, business opportunities would be limited.
When the provides an enabling environment for businesses to thrive, he said both the host communities, states, country and the companies that do business in the sector would be happy and fulfilled.
“That is why the EITI believes very strongly that with transparency and accountability everyone gains as a beneficiary,” he said.
“When we do not have a fair, equitable, transparent and accountable industry, violence is almost inevitable, and these actions impede smooth business flow and the interplay necessary to boost the sector’s contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).
“NEITI’s role is to avoid all of these by ensuring that as Miners you are provided with the opportunities and enabling environment to carry out your business,” Orji said.
The President, Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN) Dele Ayanleke commended NEITI for its consistent efforts in exercising its mandate of ensuring transparency and accountability in the extractive industry.
He affirmed that NEITI’s independent auditing and reporting on the solid minerals sector have been beneficial to members of his Association and has helped in highlighting the sector’s revenue generation potential.
Ayanleke expressed concern over the incessant interference by some State Governments in the operations of the industry, a development, he pointed out, hindered the growth of the sector.
He sought NEITI’s support in advocating for stronger compliance from subnational entities with the legal and regulatory frameworks governing the solid minerals sector.
“The present situation of State Governments interference, resulting in the enactment of multiple regulations and creation of parallel structures to control the solid minerals sector is not only inimical to Constitutional provisions, but akin to resource control, which might derail all the past efforts aimed at growing the sector to fulfil its envisaged mandates.
“We seek the support of NEITI to join the advocacy for the sub-national entities to respect constitutional provisions and all extant legal and regulatory frameworks governing the solid mineral sector,” Ayanleke appealed.
The Deputy Director/Head Communications & Stakeholder Management, Obiageli Onuorah, said the advocacy visit by the miners association to NEITI opened a new chapter in the agency’s relationship with the mining companies, as a part of the NEITI’s Executive Secretary’s efforts aimed at rebuilding trust and confidence among various stakeholders towards the NEITI process and its standards.
Onuorah said the visit was coming at a time when NEITI, in collaboration with the Companies, was planning an enlarged meeting of the NEITI-Companies Forum slated for Lagos this week.