The role of the media in extractive industry reforms took the center stage at a special training organized by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) for editors and correspondents on natural resource governance.
In his speech at the event which took place in Nasarawa, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji called on the media to strive to understand the issues bedeviling Nigeria’s extractive industries in order to make insightful and investigative reports that will drive reforms in the sector.
According to Dr. Orji “The media must understand the issues, the context surrounding Nigeria’s extractive industries, its peculiarities and global best practices so as to effectively and efficiently carry out the roles of informing, educating and enlightening the public on Nigeria’s extractive sector reforms”.
Dr. Orji advised the media to uphold the professional reputation of being jack of all trades and master of all. “A less informed journalist is an accident waiting to happen and this should not be allowed to happen in our profession. You must constantly improve and build your capacity in order to engage in your primary task of information and knowledge sharing”, Dr. Orji advised.
He urged the media to take a lead in steering the country towards the global conversation on energy transition as well as other emerging issues in the EITI notably beneficial ownership disclosures, contract transparency, commodity trading, gender, environment, project reporting etc.
“The capacity of the media to understand these emerging issues and their wider implications and application within the context of the ongoing reforms in the extractive sector will be required. This will enable Nigeria and NEITI specifically to deepen transparency and accountability as part of the global requirements in business transaction models in the extractive industries”, The Executive Secretary stated.
He explained that the workshops were put together to expose journalists covering the extractive sector to EITI’s emerging issues and dialogue on what better roles to play in the implementation of these issues.
“These workshops were held in line with my pledge during my inaugural speech that NEITI under my leadership, will work to strengthen engagements with all its stakeholders, including the civil society and the media, through regular consultations, timely dialogues as well as capacity building programs”, the Executive Secretary stated.
He re-assured the media of NEITI’s commitment to fully implement the requirements as stipulated by the global EITI and appealed that they join the campaign through advocacy, public enlightenment and feedback on EITI implementation across the value chain of Nigeria’s extractive sector.
He noted that his appointment as Executive Secretary is a show of confidence on the competence of the media to hold leadership positions and contribute to national development.
Dr. Orji requested journalists to come up with a framework for the hosting of an annual NEITI Media Roundtable. He noted that such framework will enable constant dialogue, consultations and deepen stakeholders’ engagement on EITI implementation in Nigeria.
“Let me state that NEITI’s commitment to work with the media is in our mutual interest. The media remains our most reliable allies in the struggle for transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s oil, gas and mining sectors. I assure you that our engagements will be guided by principles of independence and mutual respect”, Dr. Orji concluded.
The workshop provided the platform for the media to articulate and offer suggestions on how to strengthen NEITI-Media engagements and collaborations. Participants called for regular capacity building programs; engagements with NEITI in the development of its annual costed work plans and mainstreaming extractive sector issues into national conversation.
Obiageli Onuorah (Mrs)
Head, Communications and Advocacy