In 2003, Nigeria voluntarily signed up to the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The decision to accede to the EITI and establish the NEITI was taken in the context of the comprehensive socio-economic reform programme embarked upon by the Federal Government of Nigeria during the second term of the Obasanjo administration which commenced on May, 29, 2003. The reform programme was encapsulated in the National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS).
It focused on four main areas. These were: improving Nigeria’s macroeconomic environment; pursuing structural reforms; strengthening public expenditure management; and implementing institutional and governance reforms. Implementing the EITI in Nigeria by establishing the NEITI was part of the institutional and governance reforms. Nigeria joined the EITI basically to promote prudent management of revenues from its abundant natural resources to reduce poverty and ensure sustainable development. The NEITI is the Nigerian national sub-set of the global EITI.
How Implementation of EITI Began in Nigeria
The President of Nigeria declared Nigeria’s acceptance of the principles and criteria of the EITI on November 7, 2003. On 16th February, 2004, the Federal Government inaugurated a 28-member Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) to implement the EITI in Nigeria. The MSG was called the National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG); its Chairperson/Coordinator was Mrs Obiageli Ezekwesili, who was at that time a Senior Special Assistant to the President on Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence BMPIU located with its office inside the Presidential Villa, Aso Rock.
In 2004, She was supported by an Special Assistant to the President Mrs. Apollonia Okigbo, a Desk Officer Stan Rerri while a journalist Mr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji was seconded to the team to head a sub desk that interfaced with the media and civil society. The team later expanded resulting in the relocation of the EITI Desk outside the Presidential Villa later in 2005.
The Emergence of a Legislation
On May 28, 2007, a specific law was enacted to enforce the implementation of the Initiative in the Country. This was the NEITI Act, 2007. Nigeria was the first country in the global EITI to support implementation with legislation. Following the emergence of the law, the NSWG was reconstituted accordingly with Assisi Asobie, a civil society activist and political science professor becoming the first Chairman under the law.
The NSWG was composed of 15 members, including the Executive Secretary. Five members of the previous NSWG were retained in the immediate-past governing body. Behind the NSWG was a Secretariat with the responsibility to implement the NSWG decisions. The enactment of the law was part of measures to the institutionalization of the implementation of the EITI in Nigeria.
On January 28, 2012, the tenure of Prof. Asobie led NSWG expired. Another NSWG was reconstituted on 22 August, 2012 with another civil society activist Ledum Mitee as Chairman while Mrs. Zainab Ahmed retained her position from the previous board as the Executive Secretary. The Ledum Mitee led NSWG was dissolved on 16thJuly 2015.
The current NSWG was appointed on 19th February, 2016 with the Minister of Mines and Steel Development Dr. Kayode Fayemi as Chairman while Mr. Waziri Adio was appointed the Executive Secretary.
NEITI as a National Agency
Besides being an integral part of the global EITI, NEITI is a Federal Government of Nigeria Agency established by law, monitored, supervised by the Office of the President of Nigeria through the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. It is an autonomous, self-accounting body which by law, reports to the President and the National Assembly. It is a body corporate with perpetual succession.