NGO TASKS NEITI ON TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY
By Nnenna Ezeah
Publish What You Pay Nigeria, a non-governmental organization, NGO, has charged the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, to institute greater transparency and accountability for revenues and payments from the extractive sector.
In a statement made available to Vanguard, and signed by the National Coordinator, Ms Faith Nwadishi, the NGO said it has made some recommendations on the way forward after it looked at the gains and loopholes of the current system.
She said her organisation expected NEITI to expose the corruption and ills within the extractive sector in Nigeria, noting that four years down the line, 'we have seen that the transparency house is not so transparent after all,' since it has failed in some aspects of its responsibilities especially with regard to producing annual reports on the state of the industry.
'Nigeria is running foul of this provision we are now in 2012, and the last report which is yet to be in the public domain was for 2008, clearly four years behind schedule. Even though there is a proviso to the above provision Nigeria is yet not in compliance,' she noted.
Besides, she added, 'the NEITI Act 2007 provides in sections 13.3 and 14.3 that the NSWG shall not later than 30th of September in each year, submit to the President and the National Assembly, an estimate of income and expenditure (financial report); a report of its activities during the preceding year and shall include audited accounts and the auditor's report.'
Since the creation of NEITI, the Ngo admitted that the revenue watchdog has recorded some gains in the areas of:
* Nigeria got validation even though this was not an easy ride
* 2006-2008 audit was completed though not yet in public domain
* Launching the NEITI board charter to take care of some of the lapses in the ACT
* Repositioning of Nigeria on EITI global table
* Restructuring of the NEITI secretariat to reflect professionalism
* Improving on the sensitisation of Nigerians on NEITI
However, in spite of these gains, the NGO argued that there were still some fundamental lapses that must not be over looked if Nigeria is to move up positively in the implementation of EITI.
Accordingly, the NGO called for:
* Review of the NEITI Act to make it more workable and remove the confidentiality clause in it with recourse to the FOI Act 2011
*Provision for alternate members of the NSWG as is done at the global EITI.
* Provision for rotation in the time of serving on the board for retain ship of institutional memory and capacity
* Members of the board representing geopolitical zones should be a true reflection of the zonal representation and provisions made for their periodic reporting back to their people, thereby increasing citizen's participation in the EITI process
* NEITI should be decentralised, first to the zones and then to the sates and LGAs
* Nomination to the board should not be done with political colorations and sentiments, experts and knowledgeable people in the sector should be appointed to the board for effective delivery of responsibilities.
* Chief executives nominated to the NEITI board must make a commitment to attend meetings and follow up on the resolutions of the meetings, as sending subordinates who cannot take decisions on behalf of the organisations they represent is counterproductive.
* Federal government should stop appointing Executive secretaries before sending them to join the board; they should follow strictly the procedure for this as enshrined in the NEITI ACT 2007
* National Assembly should clearly indicate which of its committees has the responsibility to over sight NEITI and clearly state its mandate on this.