Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) have agreed to work together in the areas of oil revenue savings and promotion of better attitude to public office.
The agencies reached this agreement at separate meetings with NEITI Executive Secretary, Waziri Adio. The meetings focused on exploring areas of inter-agency mutual cooperation. Mr Adio explained that while Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) manages the Sovereign Wealth Fund derived from extractive revenues, the National Orientation Agency leads national campaign for attitudinal change and ethical values in the country.
At the meeting with the management of Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, the NEITI Executive Secretary expressed regrets that “our paltry oil savings defeat the rationale for having such savings in the first place. Nigeria does not have enough oil savings to finance even the fifth of a year’s budget at the federal level, not to talk of having enough for investments or for the future generation”.
The Occasional Paper recently released by NEITI, largely focused on the “Case for a Robust Oil Savings Fund for Nigeria”. In the publication, NEITI drew public attention to the fact that Nigeria failed to save enough oil revenues to sustain economic activities when oil prices were quite high. From the paper, “also problematic is the level of consumption relative to non-oil exports. Nigeria typically responds to high oil prices with equally high but manifestly unsustainable level of consumption. The absence of sufficient savings left Nigeria severely exposed when the price of oil, Nigeria's main source of government revenues and foreign exchange, started to plunge in 2014”.
The researched publication largely touched on the work of Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, the managers of Nigeria Sovereign Wealth Fund. The Executive Secretary however explained to the management of NSIA, that NEITI’s decision to alert the nation on the need to save for the rainy day through that publication was informed by the need for the country to prepare adequately for frequent price volatility, depletion of non-renewable resources and for the future of the next generation. It was also NEITI’s intention to table the issue of oil revenue savings as a national agenda for purposes of prudent management of the country’s oil and gas revenues for national development and the next generation.
The Executive Secretary reiterated that the Occasional Paper released recently by NEITI was within its legitimate mandate as an agency charged with the responsibility of ensuring prudent management of revenues derived from natural resources. He clarified that in carrying out this function, NEITI focused mainly on Nigeria’s strategic interest and not necessarily on the work of any agency including the NSIA. He however commended the NSIA for finding the publication valuable which perhaps influenced the visit to NEITI.
In his remarks, the Managing Director of NSIA, Dr Uche Orji, commended NEITI for taking the initiative to produce the Occasional Paper. He said the paper has helped the NSIA to tell its own story in an independent manner. According to Dr. Uche Orji, “NEITI has a voice that resonates with policy makers and its other stakeholders. We found the publication exceptional and commendable”. The NSIA boss applauded the fact that the report was produced without the inputs of his agency. He described the recommendations in the publication as very succinct and apt. “We are here to ask for closer collaboration between the NSIA and NEITI in the discharge of our individual mandates while working together for the common good of our country.” Uche Orji, added.
The NSIA Managing Director used the opportunity to brief the NEITI management on what his agency has achieved so far, the prospects of on-going projects and unfolding challenges. In his words “the Authority was set up to receive, manage and invest in a diversified portfolio of medium and long term revenue yielding projects. NSIA only invests on projects with huge potentials for direct positive impacts to the development of critical infrastructure in Nigeria, inflow of foreign investment, economic diversification, growth and job creation” he remarked.
Dr. Orji further explained that the NSIA established frameworks for good corporate governance, risk management, transparency and accountability adding that the solid governance structure has attracted credible partners, notable investors and private equity funds.
The NSIA Managing Director disclosed that Nigeria Governors’ Forum that was initially opposed to its mandate is one of its greatest supporters at the moment. “The $250m we invested in 2016 came from the state governments’ share of the NLNG dividend.”
Meanwhile, NEITI and the National Orientation Agency (NOA), are to establish effective platform for collaboration especially in the areas of information sharing, public education and enlightenment. The Director General, Dr Garba Abari gave the assurance while receiving the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Waziri Adio. He announced that 813 offices of NOA will be made available to NEITI as a platform for dissemination of NEITI reports to all nooks and crannies of Nigeria.
Dr. Abari described NEITI as an island of excellence among government agencies in terms of reputation and focus. He commended the Executive Secretary for his leadership.
According to the NOA Director General “ NOA has a mandate to re-orientate Nigerians, our value orientation and attitude needs to change especially towards public finance and resource management” we will help you mobilize all the platform at NOA’s disposal including the Local Government Assembly to disseminate NEITI reports and get the necessary feedback.
Earlier the NEITI Executive Secretary, Waziri Adio, explained that his decision to visit NOA was to explore areas of mutual cooperation. He identified several NEITI reports such as the Audit Reports, Policy Briefs, Occasional Papers and other researched publications as instruments which NOA can use to advance its grassroots advocacy and mass orientation messages.
Mr. Adio welcomed the emerging relationship with NOA especially in the NEITI Audit Report dissemination and appealed to all federal government agencies to work together to rescue Nigeria from resource curse.
Mr Adio lamented that revenue from the country’s oil, gas and mining have over the years failed to translate to good roads, electricity, jobs, and health facilities for the citizens.
The NEITI Executive Secretary however stated that it was not too late to redeem the country, if all the agencies including NOA join NEITI to rescue Nigeria from the syndrome of resource curse, fight corruption, promote better citizens' attitudinal change on prudent management of extractive revenues.