By Juliet Ukanwosu
The report of the 2019 oil and gas sector audit commissioned by the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) is ready but cannot be released due to the absence of a Board to approve it, Extractive 360 has learnt.
The NEITI Governing Board known as the National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG) is a 14member group drawn from the government, companies, civil society, academia, organized labour, industry experts as well as one representative each from the country’s six geo political zones.
The Board is appointed by the President for a non-renewable five year tenure, and is responsible for approving the agency’s activities such as the audit reports before it can be released. The composition of the Board is a core requirement of the EITI. When reporting timeliens are missed due to Board absence sanctions are usually melted out by the EITI.
In 2016, before the appointment of the board whose tenure recently ended, Nigeria narrowly missed being sanctioned by the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) due to a similar delay in the appointment of the board. Sanctions for such breach of the EITI Standards could be as severe as a suspension from the Initiative.
Speaking yesterday at a capacity building workshop for journalists organized by NEITI with support from ROLAC, in Maraba, Nasarawa State, NEITI’s Head of Communications Mrs Obiageli Onuorah, explained that without the board’s approval the completed 2019 oil and gas sector audit report cannot be released.
Onuorah also disclosed that although the 2019 report is awaiting approval and release, work has started on the 2020 audit as part of NEITI’s resolve to ensure timeliness of its audit reports.