By Stephanie Odiase
Prominent Diplomatic Missions in Nigeria have pledged their support and readiness to strengthen the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) efforts towards extractive sector transparency in Nigeria.
At a recent meeting in Abuja with NEITI’s Executive Secretary, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, the diplomatic missions which include the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to Nigeria, Mr. Pieter Leenknegt, the High Commissioner of Canada, Mr. James Christoff, and the Chargé d’Affaires of the Australian High Commission, Ms. Leann Johnston, pledged their support in offering technical assistance, pursuing governance reforms and deepening its involvement in Nigeria’s oil, gas, and mining sectors.
The Ambassadors explained that they have closely followed NEITI’s reports and activities in the extractives sector with keen interest, while commending Nigeria’s commitment to implementing the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
In his remarks, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to Nigeria, Mr. Pieter Leenknegt, particularly commended the quality and depth of NEITI’s recently released 2021 Oil, Gas, and Solid Minerals Industry Reports, praising the groundbreaking disclosures on outstanding remittances to shore up government revenue, the incisive findings and recommendations, and NEITI’s overall courage in public disclosures to enhance transparency and accountability in the sector.
The Belgian envoy pledged his country’s support to NEITI, with a focus on capacity building to expand its operations into the solid minerals sector in a manner that attracts investors, especially from Belgium.
Also speaking, the High Commissioner of Canada, Mr. James Christoff, welcomed Nigeria’s implementation of the EITI and identified the solid minerals sector as an area of special interest to Canada. He emphasized that collaborating with a reputable agency like NEITI would provide his mission with reliable information and data to assist potential Canadian investors in making informed business decisions.
Mr. Christoff noted that as a supporting country to the global EITI, the Canadian High Commission in Nigeria is willing to partner directly with NEITI in the areas of information and data sharing, training, capacity building, and providing technical support.
The High Commissioner commended NEITI’s close collaboration with Civil Society and the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals Development in combating illegal mining activities through policy reforms and coordination.
For her part, the Australian High Commission Chargé d’Affaires, Ms. Leann Johnston, welcomed Nigeria’s new policy on economic diversification and expressed confidence in NEITI to support this initiative with reliable information and data in the Extractive Industries.
Speaking at the meeting, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, reaffirmed NEITI’s commitment to tackling obstacles and working with relevant ministries to open the solid minerals sector to public engagement and debate, required to implement groundbreaking reforms. He announced that NEITI will support the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development in reforming and repositioning the sector as an alternative revenue source.
Dr. Orji while describing NEITI’s international affiliations, civil society partnerships and government ownership as major strengths, announced that NEITI will prioritize the solid minerals industry, which contributes less than 1% to GDP.