By Bassey Udo
The National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG) of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), also known as NEITI Board, has approved the 2020 annual industry audit report.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Orji Ogbonnaya Orji who announced this in Abuja said the report was one of the three reports approved by the Board for a formal unveiling and launch on March 7.
Orji named the other reports also approved for official launch to include the annual report on the solid minerals sector, and the fiscal and statutory allocations audit report.
Reviewing the activities of NEITI under his management and leadership over the last one year, the Executive Secretary said the Board has also approved the unveiling of a new five year strategic development plan developed under the new Board as well as a new NEITI information management system for the agency.
He said NEITI has also developed a roadmap to guide the effective implementation of the five year development plan.
“The NEITI 2020 audit report of the oil and gas as well as the mining and solid minerals sectors are ready. The NEITI Board met and approved the release of the reports on March 7,” Orji announced.
The oil and gas industry report, he said would cover what happened in the industry in 2020 from an independent point of view, under the NEITI framework, while the report on the solid minerals sector would mark NEITI’s formal and full movement into the solid minerals sector.
Besides, he said the fiscal and statutory allocations audit report would cover the nine states of the federation selected under the basis of their relevance in the oil and gas or mining sectors.
Within the global EITI community, Orji said Nigeria was in “very good standing” in terms being far ahead of others in timely release of its annual reports.
He said when the three new reports are released, they would continue to advance ongoing discussions on the reforms in the sectors.
With the recent assent into law of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) by President Muhammadu Buhari, Orji expressed optimism that when new law comes on stream fully, many of the issues NEITI has been talking about would have been largely resolved.
To ensure the effective and smooth implementation of the PIA, Orji said NEITI was appointed to work with nine other agencies in the steering committee.
He named members of the committee to include the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Federal Ministries of Finance and Petroleum Resources, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, and Petroleum Technology Development Fund.
The committee, he said, was charged with the responsibility of looking at the regulations that would be created by the PIA, including a regulatory regime, finance, human relations and manpower development.
Orji said NEITI’s role in the committee would be to ensure that the global EITI principles of transparency, accountability and good governance of the oil and gas industry were upheld as part of the new regulations under the PIA, while ensuring that the mistakes of the past were not repeated.
Noting that informationn and data gathering for the annual audit in the last 17 years have always been analogue, Orji said has always exposed such information to human discretions and errors.
Therefore, he said that considering that the world was in a digital age and dealing with the sophisticated oil and gas companies, there was the need to transit NEITI from analogue to digital system in the collection, collation and management of data.
He said in the last one year, NEITI has completed the information management system and secured the approval of the NEITI Board for its official unveiling of the project on March 7.
Other achievements by the NEITI in the last one year, Orji said, included Nigeria’s election to chair the global contract transparency committee consisting 20 countries.
The countries included Indonesia, Philippines, Mexico, Armenia, Vameroun, Mozambique, Senegal, Maoma, Sao Tome & Principe, Togo, Zambia and Tanzania, Mongolia, Guinea, Malawi, and Chad.
The selection of Nigeria as the chair of the committee was based on what the country has done in the area of contract transparency and accountability.