May 30, 2024
EITI, global body shifts Nigeria’s transparency validation to 2023
NEITI, CAC to check tax evasion, terrorism funding
– By Godswill Odiong

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By Dr. Orji Ogbonanya Orji
I am delighted to welcome you all to this important event –the Sensitisation of NEITI – Companies Forum on EITI Validation. This event is intended to prepare and sensitize the Companies on their expected roles as Nigeria prepares for the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) validation exercise.

As you are aware, the validation exercise is conducted every three years by the EITI for all its member countries. The exercise is a quality assurance mechanism to assess the level of compliance and progress in implementing its standards among member countries, including Nigeria.

You will recall that on 27th February 2019, the EITI Board proclaimed that Nigeria have made “satisfactory progress” over its implementation of the EITI Standard after undergoing a very rigorous validation exercise at the time under the 2016 EITI standard.
This implies that our country is due for another round of validation in February 2022, but due to scheduling issues, the global body shifted the date to January 2023. The forthcoming validation exercise will be conducted using the 2019 EITI standard. I wish to emphasize that the global assessment is on and about Nigeria’s implementation of the Initiative and not NEITI. NEITI is only a platform to guide Nigeria’s assessment.

I am pleased to inform you that NEITI has since swung into action to prepare Nigeria for this important global governance assessment of our oil, gas and mining sectors. As an agency, we have developed a plan of action to prepare other stakeholders including our staff and Board for the exercise based on what our country has accomplished as an EITI implementing country during the period under review.

We are engaging with Companies, Civil Society Organisations, Media and the government to enable us all to understand the EITI validation process, play our expected roles and ensure that Nigeria is successful during the exercise. We are also engaging with relevant Committees of the National Assembly in this direction.
The NEITI management team has undergone training on the new validation model and constituted two separate committees -the Validation Committee and Shadow Validation Committee. The Validation Committee is made up of the NSWG with the Secretariat currently providing technical support, while the Shadow Validation Committee is expected to critically review the progress made by the Validation Committee, identifying and advising on gaps within the reporting period.

To ensure adequate preparation and feedback, NEITI has commenced national sensitization to deepen stakeholders’ understanding of the EITI process and validation exercise. On the 13th of September 2022, we held a session with members of the Civil Society and the Media in Abuja and today we are engaging the Companies. This meeting is in recognition of your unique roles as operators in the sector.
NEITI is, therefore, ready to showcase outstanding accomplishments which the EITI implementation has made possible in Nigeria’s extractive sector. These achievements represent key EITI/NEITI Milestones in Nigeria.

After the release of the NEITI 2019 report in which we reported the debts owed to the government by some oil and gas companies, the House of Representatives set up an Ad-Hoc Committee to recover the outstanding revenue. That disclosure was not in bad faith as the EITI requires that the Board follows up on the findings and recommendations in the EITI report.

NEITI has also entered a partnership with Nigerian anti-corruption agencies – EFCC, ICPC and NFIU through MoUs. We are currently working with these agencies to ensure recovery of the outstanding debt owed to the government, investigate and prosecute other possible infractions as may be identified by the NEITI reports.
Similarly, the recommendations of the NEITI report and active engagement with the legislature working with other key stakeholders led to the eventual passage of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) – It was NEITI’s report that flagged the need to have a new law in the oil, gas and mining industry. NEITI currently serves on the Presidential Steering Committee on PIA implementation which is saddled with the responsibility of implementing the Act.
Furthermore, our recommendations contributed to the emergence of a new NNPC Limited and its transition to a fully commercialised company. NEITI was also instrumental to NNPC becoming an EITI-supporting company. Currently, 16 companies are supporting the EITI. As a supporting company, there are requirements which must be fulfilled, including the publication of the company’s Audited Financial Statement (AFS).

In addition, following NEITI’s publication of the policy brief in March 2019, entitled: “1993 PSCs: The Steep cost of Inaction” which highlighted the failure of the government to adjust the royalty in production-sharing contracts as provided in the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act. An amendment of the Act was conducted by the legislature and assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari within eight months of the publication. This singular action will lead to increased revenue accruals into government coffers.
Let me reiterate that this meeting is to sensitize companies on their needed responses as detailed in the validation templates which is presently been populated by the NEITI Board. NEITI is also seizing this opportunity to remind you of the commencement of the 2021 round of reconciliation of industry data. We will need you to provide data on remittances of past government liabilities, oil theft, gender and environmental reporting as well as the future of Nigeria’s hydrocarbon exploration and production as we enter the PIA regime of reforms and change.

In addition, a validation team from EITI International Secretariat will be in Nigeria from the 18th-20th November 2022 to conduct an assessment of Nigeria’s readiness for the exercise. While in the country, the validation team will consult or interact with stakeholders including companies, media and civil society.

The exercise is expected to formally commence in January 2023, beginning with the review of completed Validation templates that will be submitted to the global body by the NEITI Board/Management. The EITI Secretariat will also review other relevant documents (online/offline) on EITI implementation in Nigeria.
Besides, the EITI Secretariat will issue a public call for stakeholders’ views on the progress that has been recorded in implementing the EITI’s requirements and standards in Nigeria within the period under review (February 2019 to February 2022).

At this juncture, let me urge all of you to be objective, balanced, patriotic and put Nigeria first while expressing your views or responding to the call for stakeholders’ views by the global EITI. Remember it is our dear country, Nigeria that is facing validation.

Finally, let me congratulate OPTS on its 10th anniversary. It has been a decade of learning, growth and impact for us at NEITI and the country’s oil and gas sector. Our relationship will be stronger and more united as we move into the era of the PIA.
On this note, I thank you all for your attention and wish Nigeria a successful validation exercise.
– Being the full Speech by the Executive Secretary, NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonanya Orji at the NEITI – Companies Forum Sensitization on EITI Validation, held on Tuesday, 20th September 2022 at Four Points by Sheraton, Victoria Island, Lagos.

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