The newly appointed Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, has outlined plans to depart from the past by ensuring that the agencies reports are linked to visible impacts and value addition.
Speaking at his inaugural press briefing in Abuja on Tuesday, Orji said since 2004 when Nigeria began the implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the expectation was that transparency and public disclosure of information and data in the extractive sector will lead to accountability, poverty reduction and national development.
But this unfortunately, has not been the case, according to Orji adding, “while NEITI has put in the public domain, accurate and verifiable information and data on the sector, the challenge as we all can see is on using the information to bring about accountability and change that would lead to positive visible impacts in the lives of the citizens.
To this end, he said NEITI under his leadership will revisit the scope, depth and dimension of its reports to deliver more impacts required to address the unfolding challenges. “This is why my focus will be on the implementation of the remedial issues disclosed in the reports. The current NEITI management under my leadership is already evolving policies and strategies that would ensure that the recommendations in our reports are followed through, and statutory recoverable revenues due to government recovered.”
The NEITI boss said the outstanding recoverable revenue as revealed in its 2018 audit reports is put at N69.51 billion and $5.31 billion respectively, vowing to deploy necessary strategies to ensure that the monies are recovered into government coffers. According to Orji, these recoverable revenues consist of payments on oil royalty, gas royalty, gas flare penalties, petroleum profit tax, company income tax, education tax, withholding tax, value added tax and NNDC levy, unremitted by entities covered in the NEITI audit process.
Speaking further Orji said, “We are no longer comfortable just releasing reports, our emphasis will be on these and other recoverable revenues due to government while ensuring that companies are treated fairly and given the opportunity to grow.”
He explained that part of the strategies to achieve this will include the unveiling of a framework that will involve stakeholders and establish joint committees between NEITI and respective covered entities tasked with looking at the issues as it affects individual agencies. Orji noted that the joint committees will be similar to the one established between NEITI and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and is without prejudice to the revitalization of the Inter Ministerial Task Team (IMTT) on remediation as a multi-sectoral approach.
Furthermore, he said deeper engagement with the companies and exposure to their peculiar business models and operations will be deployed. The approach is expected to create opportunities for NEITI to appreciate their locations, peculiar nature of their operations and workflow with the intention to build trust, knowledge sharing and technical capability.
Emphasizing the place of the media and civil society groups, Orji pointed out their central to the EITI process, adding that NEITI, under his leadership will invest more time and resources to build capacity and abide by the EITI CSO protocols in other to strengthen their oversight functions in dissemination, monitoring, advocacy and public education.