President Muhammadu Buhari has been commended by Publish What You Pay Nigeria( PWYP) for re-constituting the governing board of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
The action described by PWYP as coming at the nick of time saved Nigeria from being suspended by the International board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and tasked the board to immediately go to work and implement the 2013.
Although this is a little belated, it is a good move on the part of the government Faith Nwadishi, PWYP national coordinator and member EITI international said in a statement.
She added that the governments gesture by asking civil society to chose their own representative is a welcome one and a respect for one of the core principles of the EITI that recognizes the independence of all stakeholders, especially, civil society. In addition, the choice of a serving minister as the chair of the board is commendable.
However, PWYP wishes to draw the attention of His excellency, President Mohammadu Buhari to some gaps in the composition; conspicuously missing Is the representative of the oil and gas sector. Given that over 90% of the activities of the extractive industry in Nigeria is in the oil and gas sector, not having a representative of corporate players within that sector will inexplicably leave a huge gap and exclude a critical stakeholder out of the conversation.
This also brings us to a legal overreach in the appointment of the Executive Secretary. While we applaud the choice of Mr Waziri Adio as Executive Secretary, given his experience and engagement with the NEITI process, we must quickly point out that the process and manner of his appointment is in direct conflict with legal provisions of the NEITI Board’s Charter.
Section 4 of the said charter is very clear on how the appointment of the executive secretary of the NEITI should be done i.e upon the recommendation of the constituted NSWG.
Therefore, the announcement of Mr. Audio Waziri as the executive secretary of the board contravenes this provision as he was not recommended by the NSWG.
We therefore call on the president to in the spirit of his commitment to transparency and accountability remedy what we believe is an innocuous error. This should be done by first appointing Mr. Waziri as a member of the board and allowing the board go through the process of recommending the obvious choice to the president.
In the same vein, we call on government to extend the reforms to the EITI implementation in the country by fully domesticating the principles of the EITI through the review of the NEITI Act 2007 and the passage of the Petroleum Industries bill. The impact of the EITI can be better appreciated and felt if there is a strong will on government’s part to implement the recommendations from the NEITI reports covering 14 years of data and sanctioning agencies that refuse to implement same.
As a Civil society coalition in the fore front of good governance in natural resource management and the implementation of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiatives (EITI) principles globally, we urge the members of the new board to quickly go to work by approving the 2013 report of NEITI and ensuring the full implementation of the new EITI standard that was approved by the international board on Tuesday , 23rd February, 2016 at Lima, Peru.
Publish What You Pay Nigeria remains committed to the EITI principles and would support government reforms along this line.