By Juliet Ukanwosu
The Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, has called for the need to link the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives (EITI) implementation in Nigeria, to the country’s foreign policy.
Orji made the appeal when he led NEITI’s management team on a courtesy visit to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Godfrey Onyeama, in Abuja.
He explained that issues of extractive resource governance are currently shaping diplomatic engagements among countries globally, to which NEITI seeks to partner the ministry for the purpose of sensitizing Nigeria’s diplomatic missions on these emerging issues.
Some of these global issues according to Orji, include discussions around Beneficial Ownership, Contract Transparency, Open Data, Open Ownership, environment, gender and illicit financial flows.
Dr. Orji informed the minister that there are 55 member countries of the EITI with Nigeria having missions and embassies in most of them. He stressed that it was important for NEITI work closely with the Ministry to ensure that Nigeria’s Ambassadors and High Commissions around the world are fully informed and briefed about NEITI’s leading role at the global EITI.
“At the moment, NEITI is concerned that huge information gaps exist between its leading role in natural resource governance under the EITI framework and Nigerian foreign missions. Nigeria is chair of the global network on contract transparency comprising of twenty countries among them Mexico, Philippines and Ghana. We were selected as one of the pilot countries on beneficial ownership, contract transparency, Open Data as well as on energy transition and open extractives”, Orji explained.
Reminding the minister of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitments at the London anti-corruption summit, Orji noted that the commitments also have diplomatic dimensions to EITI global implementation.
While requesting for a special desk at the ministry of foreign affairs for closer briefings and engagements on these issues, Orji said there was need to bridge the information gap that exist at the Nigerian Embassies on EITI emerging issues. “We expect our foreign missions to be abreast with EITI issues so they can provide the needed support at the international level,” the Executive Secretary said.
In his remarks the Minister said the new partnership was timely, noting that the issues been championed by the EITI are key for the development of Nigeria and Africa in general.
He said Nigerian diplomats have worked tirelessly in various capacities to push some of these through at the UN Convention, even as the President, as the African Union Anti- Corruption Champion, has pushed for African governments to be aware of the dangers of illicit financial flows and its drain on Africa’s resources.
“We have suffered from the lopeholes and gaps that exist especially in the area of illicit financial flows, so it is absolutely key for us to partner together. If we can capture much of these resources, it will accelerate the development of Nigeria and Africa,” Onyeama said.
Extractive 360 reports that Nigeria currently chairs the global network on Contract Transparency, a responsibility accorded it due to the enormous work of NEITI. Working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to sensitise diplomatic missions will further support Nigeria to uphold and maintain its leading roles on these issues, enhance her global ratings and attract foreign direct investments into the country.