By Juliet Ukanwosu
The federal government has appointed a new 15-man Governing Board known as the National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG) for the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
The Board is headed by Mr. Olusegun Adeyemi Adekunle, a renowned public administrator and immediate past Federal Permanent Secretary, General Services in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Other members of the 15-Man Board include the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Mines and Steel Development representing Government Extractive Industries, Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), representing Extractive Industries Revenue and Accountability, while the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will be representing the National Oil and Gas Company.
The Board also has a representative of the International Oil Companies (IOCs), while Mr. Peter Egbule will represent the civil society organizations. The Presidents of Nigeria Mining & Geosciences Society (NMGS) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) will be representing Extractive Industries Professional Unions on the Board.
The board is also made up of six zonal representatives who are; Dr. Bashir Bature Gafai representing the North-West, Dr. Iliya Gashinbaki, North-East, Dr. Godwin Akor Ogwuche, North-Central, Mr. Nze Joe Ibeh, South East while the South South and South-West are represented by Awowo Christian and Professor Damilola Olawuyi respectively. By the NEITI Act 2007, the board has a four year non-renewable tenure and is on a part time basis.
Speaking during the inauguration of the board in Abuja on Thursday, President Muhammadu Buhari reaffirmed the administrations irrevocable commitment to the implementation of the principles, objectives and standards of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Nigeria’s oil, gas and mining sectors.
“Let me renew the commitment of the Nigerian government to the implementation of the EITI implementation and the global EITI Standards. The present administration is passionate about the EITI process because it serves two key agendas. First, the extractive industry is very strategic to Nigeria’s economy and hence central to my administration’s economic agenda. Secondly, transparency and accountability in the management of our natural resources is equally central to the anticorruption agenda of this government. Nigeria is therefore irrevocably committed to the implementation of EITI in the oil, gas, and mining industries”, the President said.
The president praised NEITI for demonstrating a high degree of competence, integrity and commitment, over the years, to the values that the country requires to achieve economic growth and development in the sector through availability of reliable information and data required for national planning and reforms.
Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Mr. Boss Mustapha, the president further advised the new Board to ensure that NEITI continues to preserve these virtues for the benefit of the citizens.
Responding on Behalf of the NSWG, Mr. Adekunle thanked the President for the confidence reposed on them and opportunity to serve, assuring that the new Board under his watch will push the boundaries of transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s extractive industries further and strengthen on-going reforms in the sector.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji who is also a member and serves as Secretary to the Board, applauded the timely decision of the Federal Government to reconstitute the NEITI Board. He noted that the NSWG is central to NEITI’s work, adding that the Board’s constitution will enable NEITI reassume its leading position among the global EITI implementing countries.