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HOW WE ARE WORKING TO ACHIEVE EITI VALIDATION – PROF. ASOBIE

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By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
ABUJA - The Chairman of the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, Prof. Assisi Asobie, has stressed the organisation's commitment to achieving full compliance status at the next board meeting of the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, EITI, to be held early in the year.

Chairman, Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, Prof. Assisi Asobie,

Asobie, who spoke in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja, noted that a special committee had been set up by the NEITI Board to study the report and decide on the way forward.

He said, 'The outcome of the validation exercise is fundamental in deepening the process of institutionalising EITI principles through NEITI operations in Nigeria. We want to assure our stakeholders that no stone shall be left unturned in our efforts to fully comply with the requirements of the EITI Board and therefore become validated.'

He explained that the Validation mechanism provides an independent evaluation and verification tool for measuring the progress of a country in implementing EITI principles.

'EITI requires these Candidate Countries to undergo this process to evaluate the progress in implementing EITI principles. Nigeria is currently undergoing the validation process since the 14th December 2009, when NEITI preparations to receive the EITI Validation Team began.

'These involved working out modalities on the time-table for the visit, consultations, meetings and briefings for stakeholders. Others were development of work-plans and coordinated efforts by NEITI Secretariat in Abuja and Industry Stakeholders across the county to meet laid down requirements of the visiting validation team,' he added.

Commenting on the importance of the exercise, Prof Asobie described the process of Validation as a 'a rigorous one' adding that all EITI member countries look forward to the exercise to assess their level of performance and compliance to EITI principles.

Prof Asobie who also serves on the EITI Board says the outcome would assist the implementing country to know its status in the EITI community.

According to him, the NEITI Board has responded well to meeting the conditions set by the EITI over the requirements of Validation. 'I am confident that with the work we have done so far, NEITI will achieve full compliance status at the next EITI Board meeting early in the New Year,' he stated.

Meanwhile, the World Bank has backed the bid by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) to achieve compliance by the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and thus enhance its efforts for greater transparency in the nation's oil and gas and minerals industries.

The Programme Manager for EITI at the World Bank's headquarters in Washington, Mr.  Anwar Ravat, who announced the support along with a $4 million grant to the expanded NEITI Secretariat, during a visit in Abuja, noted that Nigeria's achievement of the Validation status was of paramount interest to the global financial institution. He said,

'The World Bank has observed keenly the efforts by NEITI to expand its capacity and capability towards enhancing transparency in revenue flows from the exploitation of natural resources in the country, and that is what we are interested in supporting.

'We and other development partners are encouraged by the country's efforts towards making the process of minerals exploitation very open and transparent, because we believe that is the root of progress and development and avoidance of conflict.'

Ravat added that, 'Attaining the Validation status required by EITI will go a long way to show the world how committed and responsible NEITI is as an organization. The requirements of the Validation process are very rigorous and we believe that the country is on its way to achieving that.'

He explained that the purpose of the World Bank team's visit is to work with NEITI on the process by providing technical expertise towards ensuring success at next year's meeting of EITI Board.

Ravat further disclosed that the World Bank was providing about $4 million as funding to the NEITI Secretariat, adding that, 'what we put high premium is the partnership that exist between Nigeria and the World Bank on the need to promote transparency in the extractive industry.'

According to him, 'From the plans that the secretariat has, the World Bank remains optimistic that Nigeria will achieve EITI compliance because the country is on track and I hope that we as World Bank will continue to support the initiative and ensure it keeps going on.'