The National Assembly (NASS) says it had since identified the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) as one of the Federal Government Agencies that has exhibited exemplary competency, efficiency and integrity in the discharge of its functions and public finance management.
The Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum Resources Upstream, Honorable Preye Oseke made these remarks when he led the members of the Committee on monitoring and oversight visit to the NEITI Secretariat in Abuja.
“My interaction with NEITI has been very educative and incisive. NEITI represents accountability and transparency in public service and we the National Assembly will continue to be partners with NEITI in ensuring that all government public finances are managed transparently”. Honorable Oseke stated.
The Honorable Members of the Committee also requested NEITI to forward its Law for amendment with a view to widen the scope of its operations and powers.
Honorable Oseke while pledging to review the NEITI Act explained that “NEITI has an existing Act, it is not a big piece of legislation, it is something that requires amendment to expand the scope and enhance the workings of NEITI, so it is not going to be one bill that will come to parliament and lie there. We all want transparency in the extractive industry and we will approach the review with all amount of speed and patriotism for the good of the country”. Honorable Oseke stated.
According to Oseke, “we are here as Members of the National Assembly to explore how we can strengthen our support to NEITI in the discharge of its mandate. We have been interacting with NEITI and we understand its constraints with respect to the funding of its activities. We want to reaffirm our commitment to supporting NEITI in ensuring that it performs its duty as envisaged in its enabling law”.
He emphasized the need to expand NEITI’s funding sources as well as its human resource capacity. “This is important given the enormity of its work, the nature of the sector it operates in and the diverse nature of the country”, he stated.
He further explained that the extractive industry accounts for over 80% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings, hence it is important for the National Assembly to work with NEITI to get the results and the objectives that had been set for the agency.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, noted that the NEITI Act has clear provisions on the roles of the legislature in the implementation of the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
Dr. Orji informed the Committee that an in-house review of the NEITI Act is currently ongoing, noting that “Once we are able to establish the areas that require amendment, we shall approach the executive and subsequently the National Assembly for action”, the Executive Secretary said.
The NEITI Boss while giving update on the Act stated that “The National Assembly as a law making body believes and shares our vision that the current NEITI Act was passed in 2007 when our focus was on oil and gas, we have since then moved to solid minerals and the law needs to be strengthened to cover these areas.
“We are also moving to emerging issues including contract transparency and beneficial ownership to track illicit financial flows, terrorism financing and financial malfeasance through capital flight so our law needs to be strengthened in these areas. We have done an in-house review and we will be sending this to government to help us look at it before it goes to the National Assembly for deliberation and law making”. The NEITI Boss stated.
Dr. Orji said “This visit is a clear demonstration of the willingness of the members of the National Assembly to play their expected roles as envisaged by the NEITI Act. This is also in line with the expected roles of the legislature in the EITI process”.
He further stated that the “National Assembly remains the backbone of NEITI considering the level of support and confidence the legislators have shown to the agency over the years”.
He assured the visitors that NEITI will not take this support and confidence for granted. “We shall do everything possible to sustain the trust you placed on us”, Dr Orji re-affirmed.
Dr Orji thanked the National Assembly for investment of trust on NEITI and pledge that under his watch such trust will be preserved, nurtured and sustained to enhance NEITI operations and reputation in the extractive industry.
Head, Communications & Advocacy