Sanitising the Extractive Industries Sector

Not many people know anything about the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), yet it is supposed to be the most important industry watchdog in existence in the country today.

A subset of the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), it is mandated by law to ensure transparency and accountability (due process) in payments to governments by Extractive Industry (EI) companies, that is, companies operating in the oil, gas and solid minerals mining sectors.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo inaugurated NEITI in 2004 through the setting up of the National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG), made up of representatives of government, the extractive companies and the civil society, as the body that oversees the activities of NEITI.

The bill to give the initiative legal backing was sent to the National Assembly the same year, 2004. It was eventually passed and signed into law by Obasanjo on May 28, 2007, a day before he vacated the Aso Rock seat of power.

True to its mandate, the initiative has commissioned the first ever comprehensive audit of the country's petroleum industry for the period 1999 to 2004 and is in the process of building the capacity of civil society organizations, government officials, legislators and the media to understand and monitor extractive revenue transparency in the country.

It is also in the process of forging national consensus on the need for such transparency through outreach and advocacy activities such as town-hall meetings, consultative fora and road shows, the last in ...