By Juliet Ukanwosu
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has called on mining companies in Nigeria to work more collaboratively with it, in order to fully harness the vast potentials, the mining sector holds.
The call was made by the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, when he received a delegation of the Miners Association of Nigeria, led by the President, Mr. Dele Ayanleke, during a courtesy visit, at the NEITI House in Abuja.
According to Dr. Orji, NEITI is passionate about its relationship with the mining companies because they define the scope of engagement with the solid minerals industry, as well as the level of revenue generation in the industry, government take, companies profit and the investments that can flow into the industry.
He explained that NEITI’s role in the engagement with the companies is to draw national and international attention on best ways to do business in the areas of transparency and accountability in order to provide profit for the companies in an accountable manner and provide revenues for government to be able to meet its obligations to the citizens.
“In implementing the EITI, it must be clear that in a business environment characterized by acrimony, violence, insecurity and conflicts, business opportunities will be limited and, in most cases, completely shrank or impeded. Therefore, when we provide enabling environment for businesses to thrive, both the host communities, states, country and the companies that do business in the sector will be happy and fulfilled,” Dr. Orji said.
Speaking further he said, “In transparency, environmental pollution will be tackled because violation of environmental standards and codes will impact the host communities and country negatively which naturally attracts violence and sanctions. When we do not have a fair, equitable and accountable industry, violence is almost inevitable and these actions impede smooth business flow and interplay.
“NEITI’s role is to avoid all of this by ensuring that as miners you are provided with the opportunities and enabling environment to carry out your business. We will therefore require you to cooperate with NEITI by providing data in the industry audit which we conduct in the oil, gas and mining sector and we also do same with the Fiscal Allocation and Statutory Disbursement report.”
While stressing that NEITI’s report is geared towards identifying and blocking leakages, Dr. Orji said the recent NEITI report which revealed that the solid minerals sector contributed only 0.63% to GDP is a pointer that the sector has not yet reached its full potential in making a significant impact on the overall Nigerian economy, which further underscores the need to a stronger collaboration.
In his remarks, the President, Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN) Mr. Dele Ayanleke, affirmed that NEITI’s independent auditing and reporting on the solid minerals sector has been beneficial to members of the association and has helped to highlight the sector’s revenue generation potential.
While lamenting the challenges in the sector, Mr. Ayanleke expressed concerns over interference by some state governments which hinders growth of the sector and sought NEITI’s support in advocating for stronger compliance from subnational entities with the legal and regulatory frameworks governing the solid minerals sector.
“The present state of state governments interference, leading to the enactment of multiple regulations and creation of parallel structures to control the solid minerals sector is not only inimical to constitutional provisions, but akin to resource control which might throw spanners into all the past efforts at growing the sector to fulfil its envisaged mandates.
“We seek the support of NEITI to join the advocacy for the sub-national entities to respect constitutional provisions and all extant legal and regulatory frameworks governing the solid minerals sector” Mr. Ayanleke appealed.