The Nigeria Natural Resource Charter, a non-profit policy institute on natural resource governance will launch its flagship Benchmark Exercise Report (BER), which presents the biennial findings from an assessment of Nigeria’s petroleum sector from 2017 to 2019, in Abuja on Thursday.
The BER which identifies petroleum sector progress and areas for improvements empowers stakeholders to advocate for best practices within their various spheres of work in the sector. It assesses Nigeria’s petroleum sector against 12 Precepts to offer guidance on key decisions faced by the government, beginning with whether to extract resources in the first place, and ending with decisions that determine how generated revenue can produce maximum good for citizens.
The 2019 Report provides an update on the last two years of petroleum sector governance, examined gaps in sector transparency and reported changes. A Policy Dialogue will be held to discuss these issues during the launch, a statement by the NNRC said.
The dialogue will focus on its overarching precondition for effective petroleum resource management; precept 1 determining whether Nigeria’s ‘strategy, legal and institutional framework governing the petroleum sector ‘secures the greatest benefit for citizens through and inclusive and comprehensive national strategy, clear legal framework and competent institutions,’ the statement said.
According to the Program Coordinator of the NNRC, Tengi George-Ikoli, “the release of the Report comes at an opportune time given the recent reforms instituted by the government and the omnibus reform in the form of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) being championed by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.”
She added that “the governance gaps have been well articulated in the 2019 BER and we believe that if appropriately addressed in the bill and subsequently implemented, Nigeria would have made appreciable improvement captured with a ‘green’ in areas where it largely still remains at a ‘red’.
From the findings, there were marginal changes from the 2017 BER with 10 ‘ambers’ and 2 ‘reds’ being recorded. The ‘reds’ have persisted against precept 5 and 6, the precepts that assesses the impacts of extraction on host communities and the commercial effectiveness of the national oil company (NNPC).
The major focus of the dialogue will be on those areas where there have not been any forms of improvement as captured with ‘reds’, notably precepts 5 and 6 and the other two precepts that will be affected when the PIB is passed; precepts 3 and 4.
The four key benchmarks Nigeria must attain and focus on as it targets reforms are the Natural Resource Charter (NRC)’s precepts 3, 4, 5 and 6 consecutively which ask pivotal questions on: whether the government encourage efficient exploration, the current fiscal framework, host communities benefits transfer, and accountability of the national oil company.
The NNRC says it believes that if all these questions are adequately tackled, Nigeria has the potential to compete more effectively globally and stands a chance of raising some of its 187 abjectly poor citizens out of poverty.