Nigeria/EITI

NEITI Transits To Automated Audit Data Collection Process Next Month

By Juliet Ukanwosu

The Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, has revealed that the agency will be transiting from analogue to digitalized audit process with the launch of the NEITI Audit Management System (NAMS) next month.

Dr Orji who made the disclosure while speaking in Abuja at the launch of Opening Extractives in Nigeria, explained that the NAMS project is being jointly executed with Development Gate Way under the World Bank support. The project will digitalize NEITI information and data gathering process, improve efficiency in time and resources while reducing human interference and error in the audit process.

Extractive360 reports that prior to the development, the practice was for NEITI commissioned auditors to manually send out audit templates to covered entities and retrieve information provided by these entities for analysis and processing. But with the NAMS, the entire audit process will now be digitalized without any human interference, beginning from December 2021.

Orji further disclosed that the 2020 oil, gas and solid minerals audit reports have reached final stages of completion and would be released by the NEITI Board, known as the National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG) before the end of 2021.

Additionally, he said the 2016-2019 Fiscal Allocations and Statutory Disbursement Audit (FASD) which tracks revenue receipts and utilization in resource-rich states and statutory recipients will be ready for release before the end of the year.

He further disclosed that the procurement process for the conduct of the 2021 industry audit has since commenced bringing to an end the era of belated audit reports.

On Opening Extractives, he stated that establishing a publicly accessible register of beneficial owners cannot be the end to the campaign against ownership secrecy, but by making the register count through constant interrogation, update and utilization.

“It is no longer news that hidden corporate ownership poses real danger to our collective development aspirations, especially in developing countries… Beneficial Ownership is now a global norm and Nigeria cannot be left behind given our experiences in the fight against corruption, terrorism financing, money laundering and illicit financial flows,” Orji added.

In his statement, the EITI Executive Director, Mark Robinson, while applauding Nigeria for launching Africa’s first BO register in the extractive sector, said the launch of the Opening Extractive has the potential to accelerate Nigeria’s effort in advancing beneficial ownership transparency.

The goal, he said, is to ensure that government, industry and civil society actors have greater access to reliable information on the ultimate owners of extractive companies. “This will enable stakeholders to address governance risks related to hidden ownership and to maximize revenues from extractive industries,” Robinson said.

In her address, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed, while reiterating the Federal Government’s commitment to opening extractives, stated that with the new Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020 signed into law last year, and the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, Nigeria has institutionalized beneficial ownership transparency which will invariably improve governance in the extractive sector, support businesses and curtail corruption.

Similar statements of commitment were given by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, the NEITI NSWG, the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission, Corporate Affairs Commission,  Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS), and Civil Society Organizations.

Extractive360 reports that Opening Extractives aims to transform the availability and use of beneficial ownership information for effective governance in the extractive sector. The initiative will be supported by the EITI, Open Ownership and supporting organizations in nine pilot countries, including Nigeria, to the tune of $7.2miilion over the next five years.

 

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