The Executive Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Willie Obiano has commended NEITI for bringing its activities closer to the people of South East.
The Governor explained that this will provide the zone an opportunity to build strong partnership with NEITI. This is in efforts to exploit abundant minerals in the state and the South East Zone in general.
Speaking through his Chief of Staff, Prof. Joseph Asike, Gov. Obiano made this known during the South East Zonal Outreach and Town Hall Meeting organized by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) in Awka, Anambra State.
Declaring the event open, Dr. Willie Obiano expressed satisfaction with the choice of Anambra State as venue for the outreach. He noted that the event was timely given the massive reforms embarked upon in various sectors by his administration.
Dr. Obiano stated that he has followed NEITI activities from a distance with keen interest and admiration. He remarked the efforts of the agency in drawing national and international attention to negative effects of corruption and fraud related issues, process lapses, transparency and accountability questions have resulted in the current efforts for reforms.
‘’I recognise NEITI as one of the few federal government agencies that have stood-out with courage, boldness and competence in leading the war against opaqueness and corruption especially in the oil, gas and mining sectors’’, Dr. Obiano declared.
“Let me state that Anambra state government identifies strongly with the lofty mandates, objectives, and principles of NEITI, and will provide all necessary support for EITI implementation in Nigeria’’, he further affirmed.
NEITI used the forum to reaffirmed its commitment to sub-national engagements in the implementation of the global EITI in Nigeria.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who also doubles as the Chairman of NEITI Board gave the assurances.
Dr. Kayode Fayemi, represented at the event by a Board member, Professor Gbenga Okunola noted that NEITI has achieved much since it commenced implementation of the EITI. He however identified that an area that needed improvement was reaching out to subnational engagements at the grassroot. The Awka event for the South East was planned to narrow the information gap.
“The role of state and non-state actors at the sub-national level remained under-exploited and the governing board of NEITI believes that it needs to be fixed, and that until this initiative is embraced at the sub-national level, the benefits and opportunities that an implementing country derives from the EITI process cannot be fully felt”, he affirmed.
Explaining the reasons for embarking on zonal outreach programmes, Dr. Kayode Fayemi said “this outreach is very important to NEITI as it affords us the opportunity to broaden our stakeholders’ base and build synergy with critical stakeholders in the South East zone”.
In his remarks, the Honorable Commissioner of Mineral Resources Science and Technology, Mr Chinedu Emeka explained that oil and gas were identified as one of the four pillars of the administration in the state. The other pillars being: trade and commerce, agriculture and industrialization.
Mr Emeka disclosed that Anambra State Government is in the process of setting up an oil and gas development company and is in contact with various companies that have been allocated oil blocks in Anambra State.
He expressed concern on the threats over illegal mining activities in some parts of the state.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Waziri Adio remarked that Nigeria as a nation is wonderfully blessed with resources, but the resources have not translated to blessings. He explained that the overarching goal of NEITI is for the reversal of resource curse. He added that the work of NEITI is to empower the citizens with information and data to promote knowledge and public debate to re-position the sector for the benefit of the citizens.
The South East Representative on the NEITI Board, Mrs Anne Onyekwena underlined the need to connect the wonderful work of NEITI on transparency and accountability in natural resource governance to the development programmes in Anambra, Abia, Enugu, Imo and Ebonyi States. She noted that this burden is even more when she realized that most states in the zone are endowed with minerals resource.
Mrs Onyekwena explained that from the knowledge and exposure gained so far working with NEITI, she is convinced that the government and people of the south east zone have numerous lessons to learn and gain if adequately enlightened and exposed to the principles of EITI.
Participants at the event were civil society organizations, traditional rulers, opinion leaders, community-based organizations and town union executives drawn from the five states in the zone. Others were representatives of state governments, state houses of assemblies, local governments, media, student union leaders and professional associations.