The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and some other anti-corruption organizations in the country have agreed to partner towards tackling corruption in the extractive industries, especially in the oil and gas sector.
The partners hinted on the initiative on Wednesday, at the interface sessions between NEITI, anti-graft agencies and CSOs in Abuja.
In his remarks at the forum, the Director, Communications and Advocacy of NEITI, Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, said that his organisation would continue to work with all the stakeholders to ensure accountability in the sector.
Already, Orji disclosed that the NEITI organisation was working on modalities to introduce metering technology to gather accurate data on the volume of crude oil sold by Nigeria to the international market on daily basis.
He explained that the move was sequel to findings of under-remittance of revenue from the extractive industries into the federation account, adding that as part of the NEITI’s transparency drives in the oil sector it may also begin to publish the names of oil block owners with a view to uncovering those deliberately evading tax payments.
Orji bemoaned the delay in the final enactment of the Petroleum Industry and Governance Bill (PIGB), noting that when finally enacted into an Act, it may help to address most of the challenges bedevilling the sector in over five decades.
On the issue of corruption in the extractive industries generally, the industry’s ombudsman pointed out that despite some level of transparency achieved through the implementation of the NEITI Act so far, corruption and financial discrepancies still pervade the sector.
Commenting on the issues in the sector, the Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said that the recognition of the limitations of the NEITI’s Act, stakeholders agreed to build a network of multiples to give effect to some remedial actions as a way of strengthening the accountability in the sector by invoking sanctions where possible.
Musa said that these efforts became necessary due to several lapses reported in the audit reports in the sector, some of which border on corruption and economic crimes.
The CISLAC boss explained that the observed lapses prompted the NEITI to reach out to relevant organisations with core anti-corruption mandates to support in following through aspects of the recommendations that align with their mandates, especially where issues of further investigation and prosecution would be necessary to address impunity.
In his goodwill message, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission’s (ICPC’s) representative, Ifeanyi Nwaigwe, said that the collaborative effort was crucial to winning the anti-graft war in the sector
Nwaigwe pointed out further that though the prosecution of the war against graft remained challenging, all Nigerians must be committed to winning the war.
It would be recalled that the federal and state governments had disagreements recently over remittances by revenue agencies to the federation account, particularly over the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s (NNPC’s) remittances which stalled the Federal Account Allocation Committee’s meetings for about two months.