The Director General, National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Professor Abubakar O. Sulaiman has said that the NILDS Toolkit could help alleviate poverty and spur economic growth and social development in Nigeria.
Professor Sulaiman made this known on Wednesday during the virtual validation of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies/ Nigeria Natural Resource Charter’ s Toolkit for the Nigerian Parliament on extractive industry.
The Toolkit is for the National Assembly to Support Engagement with the Extractive Industry.
“It has been prepared specifically to support the Nigerian legislature in ensuring effective technical decision-making as well as transparency and accountability in the management of oil, gas and mineral wealth of Nigeria for the good of all Nigerians”, the DG stated.
He added that existing research indicates that transparency and accountability in the management of revenues from oil and mineral resources are critical to preventing conflict and achieving sustainable development.
“Transparency requires that information is available, timely, accurate and released regularly, in addition to being useful and readily comprehensible to the public (World Bank Institute, 2010). With transparent access to information, citizens are able to participate in the broader discourse on public policy and on the allocation of society’s resources, including extractive natural resources”.
On the benefits of the Toolkit to Parliamentarians, “the legislative interventions outlined in this guide have the potential to address some of the issues in Nigeria’s extractive sector. The measures identified can support lawmakers in developing legislation with adequate safeguards, checks and quality controls to guard against conflicts of interest and undue discretion. The Guide not only seeks to build the capacity of legislators to understand the extractive sector but also outlines strategies that legislators can use to deepen oversight of the sector through mechanisms such as audits, oversight visits, as well as corporate transparency and monitoring” he said.
In his address, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, commended NILDS and NNRC for the initiative.
Senator Lawan who declared the session open was represented by Chairman, Senate Committee on petroleum (upstream), Senator Bassey Akpan.
He said the legislative guide on the extractive sector is coming at a very important time when oil revenues are dwindling.
“As you are well aware, legislators, policy-makers, and even activists are armstrung in their efforts to evaluate, analyse and oversee issues related to the extractive industries because of the complicated nature and opacity of the industries.
“As a result, the lack of technical knowledge limits their ability to engage on these complex issues and creates a psychological barrier that often discourages effective oversight.
“This Toolkit can significantly bridge this knowledge gap as it provides legislators with a basic primer on the extractive industries in Nigeria and details avenues for legislative intervention” the President of the Senate stated.
Also speaking, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, Chairman, Expert Advisory Panel of the NNRC, represented by Mr. Osten Olorunsola said the toolkit will complement the NNRC’s oil and gas sector assessment; the NNRC’s Benchmarking Exercise Report (BER), which outlines the gaps, weaknesses and triumphs of the oil and gas sector.
“Although, we do not have a similar instrument for the solid minerals sector, the toolkit will provide an adaptation of the oil and gas sector assessment for the solid minerals sector”.
“Over the years, the National Assembly has contributed significantly to Nigeria’s improvements in the extractive sector as noted in the NNRC’s BER, this toolkit will ensure that the efforts of the National Assembly are deliberate and effective to achieving the much needed reforms for these all important sectors. We are very proud of the work that has gone into the toolkit.
“It is designed to improve the knowledge of legislators on the extractive industry in general, the relevant legislative committees in particular, clerks and Legislators alike and to enhance the tripartite role of the legislators, by enhancing the law making, oversight and representative capacities for the governance of the extractive industry”.
The virtual session which was widely attended had Legislators, Clerks of relevant Committees, Heads of Ministries, departments and agencies as well as captains of industries among others in attendance.