The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI has signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with the Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, aimed to ensure speedy remediation of its audit reports’ recommendations before the National Assembly.
This step is one of the numerous strategies being deployed by the agency to enthrone transparency and accountability in the extractive sector of the economy, particularly, in the oil and gas, which is before now entangled in corrupt and other sharp practices.
In his address shortly after the signing ceremony held at the Reiz Continental in Abuja, the Chairman of NEITI, Mr. Ledum Mitee charged the civil society to independently take on those key issues of remediation and recoverable debts identified by the NIETI audit reports.
Mr. Mitee who was represented by a member of the National Stakeholders Working Group, NSWG, Hon. Bassey Ekefre, added that, “these debts were as a result of under assessment, under-payment and variance between what companies paid and what government received in form of royalties, taxes, signature bonuses, levies and sales of equity crude.”
The civil society according to him “can no longer sit down to watch and allow these recoverable funds remain in the hands of the companies at a time the Federal Government is searching for funds to finance the deficits in the annual budgets.”
The chairman who explained that, “the MoU was developed to further broaden scope of civil society’s participation and strengthen its engagement in the NEITI process,”, added, “let me state unequivocally that NEITI’s commitment to work with the civil society is irrevocable.”
“I wish to assure you that under the NSWG which I chair, the relationship will continue to be strengthened in a manner that will not jeopardise the independent of the civil society,” he said.
“Accordingly, I wish to call on CSOs to take full advantage of the spirit and content of the MoU to deepen their engagement in the NEITI process. We expect an aggressive support to NEITI in an independent manner in such important areas as dissemination, remediation and in expanding the frontiers of EITI outreach to all nooks and crannies of the country using your various networks and platform.
“Delivering NEITI/EITI mandate to Nigerians in a manner that creates impact is the responsibility of all. With this MoU clearly defines and solidifies our relationship, I expect everyone to rise to their responsibility.
“For instance, we expect the CSOs to push for a debate on NEITI audit at the National Assembly. It is my sincere hope that signing of this MoU will mark the beginning of a new era between NEITI and civil society and will lead to more robust engagement in the management of our extractive industries,” he said.
Mr. Mitee promised that the NEITI will continue to explore all opportunities to respond to the capacity building needs of CSOs working on issues of extractive governance. He added that, “there is no doubt that the civil society has complimentary and distinct roles to play in the delivery of NEITI objectives.