Beneficial Ownership Register Ready in October

A beneficial owner’s register of companies operating in the extractive industries will soon be ready, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative has stated.

This was made known when a Technical Committee set up to ensure that the register is publicly opened briefed the Secretariat on so far it has gone in carrying out the Terms of Reference given to the Committee and next steps.

The Committee maintained that in order to carry out this assignment, it has had series of meetings and consultation with the regulatory agencies in the oil, gas and mining sectors.

At the meeting, the Committee outlined the progress made so far and specified that template of the register has gotten to an advanced stage in its development and will be presented to the extractive companies soon. Also procurement and installation of software, test run and commissioning of the register are the next steps on the project.

The Executive Secretary of NEITI Mr. Waziri Adio expressed his pleasantry surprise over the progress made so far by the Committee and urged them to keep it up. He also advised the Committee to stay on track even though they are not there yet they are almost there.

Mr. Adio welcomed the commitment of stakeholders involved in the process towards ensuring Nigeria published the Beneficial Ownership register as mandated by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) comes January 2020 for all implementing countries.

He reinstated his support and un-relented effort until the register is publicly published.

In the same vein, the Media and the Civil Society organizations in the country have stated their commitment to implementation of beneficial ownership disclosure in the country.

This commitment was made at the end of a one-day workshop on beneficial ownership disclosure held in Port Harcourt, River State recently.

The NEITI Executive Secretary, Mr. Waziri Adio represented by the Director Legal Services, Mr. Peter Ogbobine, and chair of NEITI in-house committee on beneficial ownership requested the support of the media and civil society organizations towards establishment of a public register of beneficial owners of extractive companies operating in the country.

Mr Ogbobine reminded them that they are the third leg of the tripod on which EITI/NEITI stands and admonished them to play their roles in order for the country to have a register in place on or before the deadline of 2020 given by the EITI to the implementing countries.

Nigeria is one of the 52 EITI implementing countries required to have in place a public register of all beneficial owners of extractive companies operating within their territories by January 2020.

Dr. Mike Uzoigwe, Programme Manager for FOSTER stressed the importance of having beneficial ownership register to the fight against opacity that breeds corruption in the most critical sector of the country’s economy. He also emphasized other benefits to include curtailment of sources of funds for terrorism, improvement of revenue generation, curbing of tax avoidance and evasion as well as fairness in the contracts award and involvement of more   citizens in the sector governance.

A key activity at the workshop was the development of campaign strategies for implementation of BO tagged ‘Extractive Beneficial Ownership Advocacy Initiative (EBOAI)’. The strategies include mapping out critical stakeholders in the BO project, appropriate approach for engagement, and identifying results to expect from such engagements. They also set out timelines and assigned responsibilities to members.

A twitter hash-tag ‘#WhoGetAm’ to aid information sharing among members of the Extractive Beneficial Ownership Advocacy Initiative (EBOAI) was equally developed at the workshop.

Participants resolved to commence implementation immediately and work with relevant agencies in order to meet the set target date for opening of the BO register.

The workshop attended by 25 participants drawn from media and civil society organizations across geo-political zones in the country was sponsored by the Facility for Oil Sector Transparency and Reform in Nigeria (FOSTER) and is part of NEITI stakeholders’ engagement towards establishment of the beneficial ownership register of the extractive companies operating in the country.