By Gift Eguavoen
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has begun the induction training program designed to introduce its newly recruited staff to the world of transparency and accountability in the management of Nigeria’s oil, gas and mining sectors. The induction training is also aimed at exposing the new staff to NEITI’s national and international mandate and obligations.
Speaking at the opening session of the induction training in Abuja on Monday, Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, used the opportunity to clear the air on media reports suggesting irregularities and lack of transparency in the recruitment process, saying it is not true.
“I therefore need to clarify that the insinuations in a section of the media that NEITI hired staff without due process is certainly false, uninformed, misleading and lacking in fair hearing. We are disappointed that the authors of that story never bordered to either check with NEITI to get our own comments for fairness and balance which is a basic ethical compelling requirement in a noble journalism profession that I am a proud member.
“However, let me reassure all Nigerians, the EITI and our global partners that NEITI is certainly aware and quite sensitive to our public ethics and commitments to EITI principles and will do everything to preserve the NEITI/EITI brand as an island of integrity and excellence,” Orji said.
He explained that following the manpower gap at NEITI, the National Stakeholder Working Group (NSWG) human resources committee which conducted the recruitment exercise, reviewed over 2000 CVs in NEITI Database from applicants under NEITI “Leave Application Behind” policy (LAB). “This is a policy put in place by NEITI over the years to preserve and provide hope for applicants who seek a career in the organization,” Dr. Orji said.
According to him, the process commenced in February this year to ensure that NEITI followed all guidelines of transparent and competitive processes and secured all required approvals for the recruitment exercise, including approvals from the Federal Character Commission, Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation as well as the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning which provided the budgetary provisions and professional guidance of this exercise.
He added that from the huge number of applications, 166 candidates were shortlisted and invited for interviews out of which 145 attended. From the overall assessment, 23 candidates scored 75% and above and made the national merit list, 36 others scored between 70-74% and fell within the general merit. 82 Candidates met the minimum score of 65%, while four candidates who made the minimum score of 65% were considered strictly to address equity in federal character representation.
Addressing the new employees, Dr. Orji said the essence of the induction training is to expose them to perform their roles and learn to function within a team. “There is a gap in NEITI that you have been recruited to come and fill. This induction exercise will provide you with the opportunity to familiarize yourselves with the NEITI systems, its organisational culture, the Nigerian civil service procedures, the EITI and its evolving standard, and the extractive sector governance in general,” the NEITI boss told the new staff.
In his address, the Chairman of NEITI NSWG, Bar Olusegun Adekunle, noted that the process that produced the new staff has been rigorous, merit based and in compliance with all laid down procedures of the Federal Government.
“The NSWG upon inauguration in July 2021 commenced a programme for the strengthening of the NEITI Secretariat and spread of the agency to other geopolitical zones of the country. This is because, the policy direction is required for the successful implementation of NEITI’s 5-year Strategic Plan (2022-2026) developed and approved by our Board to drive the objective, the manpower growth plan developed by the Secretariat and approved by the Board,” Adekunle said.
According to him, NEITI has secured commitment for the provision of office space at the six geopolitical zonal offices of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) through an MOU between both agencies.