The implementation of Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Nigeria is a veritable tool for managing conflicts and insecurity in extractive communities.
Mr. Waziri Adio, the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Initiative (NEITI) stated this while delivering a speech at the 7th Sustainability in the Extractive Industries (SITEI) Conference recently held in Abuja.
‘‘One of the tools for managing conflicts, crisis and insecurity in the extractive sector is the EITI.When you do things in the open, the possibility of conflicts or disagreements is minimized”, Mr Adio noted.
The Conference, “Managing Conflicts and Insecurity in the Extractive Industries” was organized by CSR-in-Action in partnership with NEITI. It examined the challenges of conflicts and insecurity in the extractive industries and how these can be managed.
The Executive Secretary noted that over dependence on natural resources predisposes a society to conflicts to the extent that resource extraction and conflicts now seem intertwined and mutually occurring.
Mr. Adio explained that EITI is a multi-stakeholders arrangement where you have companies, civil societies, and government working together to solve common problems and take conflicts and crisis out of resources governance.
“EITI is about putting searchlight on companies’ payments and government receipts, and also monitoring to ensure that the resources are used in a way that is prudent, accountable and promote development”, he explained.
He described rent-seeking behaviors, uneven distribution of resources among stakeholders and low accountability, which are features of resources-rich countries as part of the factors responsible for conflicts and insecurity in the extractive industries.
“When countries depend on natural resources, the tendency is that the government will not be accountable to their people since their people also are not paying tax, natural resources are very easy to be captured”, Adio said.
The Executive Secretary however challenged citizens to monitor the utilization of extractive industries revenues by the three tires of government and ensure that the revenues are utilized judiciously.
“We need to follow the money, “It is not enough to know what has gone into the different tiers of government, It is also important to know what they have done with the money”.
He informed the audience of the revelations in the recent report by NEITI that analyzed allocations from Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) for the first quarter of 2018.
“All the 36 states received N683 billion for the three months. The Niger Delta states, the six states in the South-South received N206 billion, that is about 30% of the entire money that went to the 36 states”, Adio revealed.
Mr. Adio urged state governments to localize the EITI. “It doesn’t have to be called EITI but we should put in place a mechanism to know what is going on in government and what is being done with public resources”.
While calling for equitable and inclusive management of resources from the extractive sector, NEITI Executive Secretary noted that there is no country that has developed based on natural resources extraction. “The wealth of a nation lies in her people,” he said. When you have natural resources endowment, use them to increase their productive capacities, invest in physical and human infrastructures, education and health”.
Earlier in his keynote address, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi noted that mining, if properly managed has the potential to lift people and countries out of poverty from the vast foreign exchange and revenues generated by the sector.
Speaking through the Ministry’s Technical Adviser, Mrs. Amanda Lumun Feese-Ideh who represented him at the Conference, the minister lamented that in many instances, mining has increased inequality and triggered as well as exacerbated conflicts.
“In mining, the potential for conflict is almost certain because of its nature and inherent impact on the environment and people’s livelihoods, health, and safety” Dr. Fayemi said.The ministerdescribed several structural and contextual issues as factors responsible for triggering conflicts in mineral rich countries.He explained that apart from conflicts that triggered by the introduction of a formal large-scale mining industry, many conflicts also arise on fight over control of one mineral resource.
Dr. Fayemi underscored the importance of a mining sector development strategy that balances economic and social objectives to address the structural and contextual triggers of conflicts in the sector by government.
“Our policy thrust in the robust roadmap for the growth and development of the mining sector, which we launched in August 2017, balances these objectives. We set a target of 3 percent of GDP from mining by 2025 from 0.33 percent in 2015; we are working to achieve broader macroeconomic objectives by linking the mining sector with the rest of the economy”.
In her welcome address, convener of the conference, Ms. Bekeme Masade noted that transparency and accountability in the management of extractive resources will serve as antidote to conflicts and insecurity in the extractive communities. “Implementing the recommendations of the NEITI is pivotal to ending violence and expose all those who hide behind the opaque veil of secret extractive asset ownership to fund the economy of violence in the extractive communities” Bekeme said.
The Conference which is in its 7th edition was attended by representatives of extractive industries, MDAs, Development Partners, Civil Society and the Media.