Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in Nigeria’s extractive sector have decried their exclusion by the government from the processes involved in the forthcoming 2020 marginal oil fields bid round.
According to the CSOs, the published bid guidelines by the Department of Petroleum (DPR) did not involve civil society among agencies that would monitor the exercise.
The group also expressed concern that the published guidelines were fraught with provisions that may hamper the interest of genuine bidders in the oil fields and deny the country the benefits of set objectives.
Consequently, the group, in a letter dated June 15 to the DPR Director, Sarki Auwalu, demanded immediate inclusion of at least two civil society representatives in the bidders screening team as observers, to build public trust and investors’ confidence in the bid process.
Recall that the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) opened the bid process for the award of 57 new oil licenses to prospective Nigerian companies and investors.
The group also called for a strong legislative oversight by the National Assembly, and involvement of the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) before, during and after the exercise to avoid past experiences.
The letter signed by Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Nigeria, BudgIT Foundation, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Media Initiative on Transparency in Extractive Industry (MITEI), among others read in part: “After reviewing the Guidelines, and putting into perspective past experiences and pitfalls of similar processes, we deem it important to draw your attention to some of the points that could hinder the success of the process, or limit Nigeria from deriving optimal financial and socio-economic benefits from the exercise. We are prepared to play our roles as Civil Society in support of this very important national exercise, with the understanding that it is intended and designed to deliver the overriding interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.”
The group said previous exercises between 2000 and 2007 not only fell below global best practices, it failed to secure maximum value for the country, and emphasized the need for strict adherence to globally accepted best-practices this time around in order to bring desired benefits to government.
While calling for a strategic direction, the group said each licensing round objectives must align with the country’s strategy for managing natural resource base for current and future generations as previous licensing rounds in the country were sadly not tied to any comprehensive asset development strategy or broader economic development plans.
They further called on the government to strengthen the National Data Repository Geological system by making authenticated and certified data easily accessible to bidders to attract capable investors to the oil assets on auction.