The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative has said that the sector is owing the federal government about $6.8 billion. Dr Ogbonnaya Orji, the Executive Secretary of NEITI said this in an interview with newsmen in Abuja. He said “NEITI does not collect or keep any money and we do not release money or generate revenue but our report can incentivise revenue generation,’’. According to him “I knew that information and data can be translated into revenue generation, so the first thing we did was to look at government agencies and companies that owed government and nobody was talking about that.
“About 77 of these companies were rejecting NEITI’s report and people in the past had no courage to release their names to the public. I released their names and I published them because the amount they owed us was up to the excess of $6.8 billion and here Nigeria is borrowing money to fund the budget. I said this cannot continue and by the time we released that report and threatened to name the companies, they know the implications to their reputation in international oil market so many of them rushed to pay,’’ Orji said. All the taxes have to go to the Federal Inland Revenue Service and all the royalties concessions have to go to the Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Commission.
He said that “the number of companies owing reduced from 77 in 2019 to 51 in 2022. This means they have been paying and we are using the opportunity we have to warn that 2021 reports will be released by December. Any company that has not paid we will drag them to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. We do not want to get to that level because we need the companies to do business in Nigeria. The companies are very critical in our sector and without the companies that do business in oil and gas, taxes will not be paid and revenue will not be generated. But we are saying that the countries where most of the companies come from they don’t owe taxes, they don’t owe royalties. In future, I will be thinking of calculating the interest, that is to the extent that NEITI report has continue to help generate revenue,’’ Orji said.