CSOS APPLAUD NEITI ON VALIDATION AND RECOMMITS TO EITI

Civil Society Organizations have applauded NEITI’s rating by the global EITI on the recently concluded validation exercise.

Validation is an essential feature of the EITI process. It serves to assess performance and promote dialogue and learning at the country level, and safeguards the integrity of the EITI by holding implementing countries to the same global standard.

NEITI was among the countries recently subjected to the validation test by the global EITI. It ranked Nigeria in the ‘Meaningful Progress’ category. The global EITI remarked that Nigeria was exemplary in using the NEITI reports as key instruments, tools for reforms. It noted that the massive reforms in the Oil & Gas and Mining industry under Buhari’s Administration are directly linked to the NEITI Audit Report findings and recommendations over the years.

The meeting of the Civil Society in Kano, held at the Tahir Guest Palace in the ancient city was an opportunity for the CSOs working under the platform of the NEITI Civil Society Steering Committee to appraise the country’s performance.

“The CSOs observed that the EITI validation report in Nigeria revealed that the country made meaning progress in the implementation of EITI standards. The civil society however expressed concerns that given Nigeria’s ranking as the best implementing country in 2013, they expected more. They called for closer cooperation and partnership with the civil society in the implementation of the standard and remedial issues in the NEITI reports for the country to improve on its current ranking.

The CSOs however welcomed the noticeable lapses in the process and resolved to set up a five man committee to develop a remediation work-plan to address the gaps. The five man committee is expected to study the validation report with specific interest in the issues raised about CSO engagement and advice on the way forward.

The meeting in Kano also reviewed the existing MOU on NEITI - CSO relations as well as the application of the MOU to strengthen CSO protocols.

During the Induction the steering committee members were exposed to the principles, methods and benefits of EITI to national development. The training also covered the roles of CSOs in the EITI process especially in the areas of dissemination, remediation, subnational reporting and EITI outreach.

Declaring the induction training open, the representative of the Kano State Government, Comrade Mohammed Garba expressed the willingness of the state government to collaborate with NEITI and civil society to set new agenda for sub-national development using IGR. He urged NEITI to do more work at the state levels and explore ways in which EITI can be implemented in the states.

“The state government identifies strongly with the lofty objectives and principles of NEITI, and will continue to sustain its support for EITI implementation in Nigeria”, he said.

Comrade Garba who is also the Kano State commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, explained that Kano State which is the commercial hub of Northern Nigeria is well endowed with solid minerals such as silver, silica, sand, columbite, casserite, clay and lots of other minerals in commercial quantities.

He commended NEITI for its commitment and focus in providing valuable information and data for national development in spite of challenges and charged civil society organizations to engage actively in the EITI implementation.

“NEITI is one of the most respected Federal Agencies that Kano State will be proud to be closely associated with in the performance of its statutory mandate. I therefore commend NEITI for its commitment and focus in providing valuable information and data for national development in spite of challenges”, he said.

Comrade Garba recalled that Kano State was one of the nine states that participated in the Fiscal Allocation and Statutory Disbursement (FASD) Report conducted by NEITI in 2013, noting that the State is using the recommendations of the report to support the on-going reforms in the state.

He also noted that among the nine states that were covered by the audit exercise, Kano State was identified as one of the best in terms of internally generated revenue (IGR) with the record of N108.944 billion within the period under review.

“The report identified the State as the best in terms of investment in the social sector, which comprises of education, health etc. According to the audit, the Sector had the highest capital expenditure spending that accounted for 40.8% of the sum of N68.863 billion within the period”, he further noted.

The commissioner noted that Kano State is already using the recommendations of the FASD reports by NEITI to support the on-going reforms in the State.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Waziri Adio who was represented by the Director of Legal Services, Mr. Peter Ogbobinne gave an overview of the role of civil society in the EITI tripod.

He said “civil society is a critical component of the NEITI process whose participation is one of the core requirements of the global EITI”.

He urged members of the Civil Society Steering Committee to effectively engage with NEITI reports to bring about the much needed transparency and accountability in the extractive sector.

“The meeting is to inaugurate members of the civil society steering committee and expose participants to the processes, principles, methods and objectives of the NEITI/EITI”, he noted.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG) and the Honourable Minister for Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi who was represented by Otunba Gbenga Onayiga, a member of NSWG congratulated members of the civil society steering committee for their selection.

He tasked members of the committee to come up with comprehensive plan and strategy that will guide the committee work and advise NSWG on the best and most efficient way to engage the civil society.

Mr. Kolawole Banwo, Chair of the Civil Society Steering Committee also explained the importance of civil society participation in the NEITI process, noting that EITI is civil society-driven.

He called on the newly inaugurated members to set the agenda in the extractive sector and properly engage with the audit reports using its findings and recommendations to hold government and companies to account.