Africa Network for Environment & Economic Justice (ANEEJ) yesterday commended the Federal Government and the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) for their resolve to rid the country’s oil and gas sector of corruption.
Speaking at a roundtable on oil & gas sector reform in Nigeria, held on Wednesday at the Denis Hotel, Abuja, Rev. David Ugolor, ANEEJ Executive Director, said the meeting was designed for stakeholders in the industry to consider and discuss some of the ongoing and other emerging issues in the sector especially the commitments made by the present administration at London Anti-corruption Summit.
“We are happy that the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) is currently championing an aspect of that commitment which deals with the issue of beneficial ownership and that is why we particularly invited NEITI to this roundtable to give an update on the concept and how CSOs can contribute to actualizing the idea. We are also interested in how to take the issues usually generated by NEITI audit reports forward,” he stated.
“At this point, we like to commend the NEITI current leadership for taking a proactive step through the publication of Policy Brief which strongly underline the importance of Beneficial Ownership disclosure in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria.”
On the PIB, he said, “We are aware that the attempt by successive administration to pull through with the PIB has been unsuccessful and even this current administration has equally started to do something about the bill but no significant progress has been made.”
Expressing concerns on the need to harmonise transactions in the industry, Rev. Ugolor said ANEEJ has been following up on the oil swap contracts in Nigeria and had previously undertake specific activities to encourage the Nigerian government to put an end to oil swap and undertake direct sales and direct purchase of crude, because the entire process has not been handled transparently as Nigerians do not have idea of what such contracts entails.
Enumerating the challenges of trying to initiated the Beneficial Ownership project, NEITI’s Director of Communications, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji listed such to include outright refusal of some companies to fill the template, discrepancies between information disclosed in the template and information in corporate affairs commission (CAC) as well as perception of disclosure as witch hunting etc.