The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has affirmed its assurance and commitment in partnering with the Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) to boost and deepen its pursuit for transparency and accountability in the nation’s oil, gas and mining value chain
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Orji Ogbonnaya-Orji gave the assurance while speaking at the NEITI -Companies Forum Meeting organized in partnership with OPTS with the theme: Deepening and Strengthening Engagement in Nigeria’s Extractive Sector, in Lagos.
According to him the objective of the forum was to emphasize the importance understanding the purpose of NEITI’s mission and vision . He said that the forum was put together to create opportunities for companies to examine the work NEITI is doing, ask questions where they needed to and seek clarification without writing letters.
‘’ He noted, it’s for them to also understand what their jobs are adding that participation in NEITI has implications on the corporate reputation of the company globally and also has implication on investment decisions.
He said ,‘’NEITI is that review mechanism on how to attract transparency, accountability and good governance. What we are set up to do is to encourage, create enabling environment for companies and we as member of 67members countries, whatever happens here is transferred to 67member countries around including the G7 countries.
The executive secretary said the agency will also want to engage in series of trainings with the OPTS to be able to know truly who NEITI is and also understand what the agency is not doing right, that it could do better and then seek their views on how to improve. “The forum will have to be creative, it’s already creative, strengthened and put in place for that to happen”, he stated.
“We thought today would have been a day to expose you to the recent reports we released and then we also thought we could use the opportunity to discuss some of the opportunities and challenges and how to strengthen the OPTS participation, mining participation and the participation of all the companies in the process but that will have to wait until when we have the right forum”, we will work with the OPTS to bring the forum back, Orji stated.
Earlier in his remarks, the OPTS Executive Director, Gwueke Ajaifia made strong commitment to work with the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) in ensuring transparency and accountability in the energy sector.
Ajaifia also expressed the readiness of OPTS in meeting the required financial contributions to bringing the industry together to achieve its goal.
Ajaifia said going forward, OPTS will be more efficient, more committed for others to follow suit.
He said : “ For us in the OPTS, we are very interested in NEITI, we are on the board of NEITI, but beyond that it is in our own interest to be able to show people what we are doing because transparency will help prevent corruption and mismanagement. According to Ajaifia ‘if I know clearly that my activities will be seen by the public then I will be careful in what I do in the industry’.
The executive director who noted that corruption thrives very well in areas where there is no transparency , observed that the industry is very important in that regard because , so much money is earned for the country , for which people deserve to know what they are spent on.
“We are actually creating wealth for the country, but this wealth people must see how it comes in, how it’s used to decide whether it’s judiciously applied”, he added.
He said although the OPTS interfere with NEITI at all levels, sometimes giving data when they request for it but never understood what was on the on the other side. He said any society that does not have data information cannot grow, data and information are very key he added.
“With data you can plan, you can understand the trend of things, so in our society people just do things without planning; NEITI will help us develop our mindset. Beyond having data, having the right data is also very important because if you use the wrong data you end up in one direction”, he stated.
He said those in the industry should be interested in what happens in it, adding that the oil and gas industry is the biggest provider of foreign exchange for the country and so if people have a wrong perception of what they see outside then it will not help the industry.
That’s why we should be interested in being very active in this kind of forum so that we will help NEITI to get the right data. He said that as key stakeholders of those in the oil company OPTS will ensure that the next forum will be well attended, I just want to repeat that NEITI important for everyone, he reiterated.
“So for our own part we have a role to play, myself and colleague we have been talking about it, we need to reach out to members of the industry forum to reestablish their commitment and make sure that the next forum will be one that will have everybody so that at the end of the day it will be a win, win situation, the executive director stated.