Group seeks transparency in disbursement of fiscal allocations
BOTHERED by lack of transparency in disbursement of revenue accruable to governments from the nation’s extractive industries, an Ibadan-based NGO working in promoting transparency, The Centre for Public Private Cooperation (CCPC) has organized a three-day workshop in Lagos to sensitize civil societies in the South West on ways of deepening their advocacies in ensuring transparency in disbursement of fiscal allocation of proceeds from Extractive Industries.
The workshop organised in collaboration with Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and Department For International Development (DFID) focused on the 2007-2011 Fiscal Allocation and Statutory Disbursement (FASD) Audit Report recently released by Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), which for the first time revealed Government earnings in the nation’s oil and gas sector.
Participants at the workshop drawn from NGOs, academia, the media, women organizations, state actors and religious organisations were equipped with information to enable them ask critical questions about how oil revenue were being disbursed among various tiers of governments and agencies of government.
The programme officer of the group, Mrs. Kenny Williams, in her remarks urged Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to utilize the opportunity provided by the workshop to deepen their advocacy in oil and gas revenue tracking in the southwest.
Williams said the call was necessary in view of the far-reaching recommendations contained in the report. According to her, the NEITI report was an attempt at promoting transparency and accountability in the industry as it revealed for the first time, how much the country is earning and people could not act on the information to ask relevant questions with view to holding government accountable.
“We know that nations that are rich in oil and gas that oftentimes, the oil is like a predicament. It is a paradox of a rich nation but The programme officer, who described the timing of the training as a coincidence, expressed optimism that with the new government, the changes that Nigerians are yearning for in the oil and gas sector will become a reality.
Also the director of CPPC and renowned economist, Prof Ademola Ariyo said the workshop was intended as capacity development training for oil and gas revenue tracking and advocacy in the Southwest. He lamented that the operations in the oil and gas sector has over the years been shrouded in secrecy making it a black box, which breeds corruption.
According to him, the 2007-2011 Fiscal Allocation and Statutory Disbursement (FASD) audit report recently released by Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) offered an opportunity for the incoming government to turn the black box into a white box.
“The report will empower the public particularly, the stakeholders and civil societies to empower them with information since information is power. Having been equipped with information and the intent is to step down training with step down information to other members of the society and at the end of the day, everybody is aware of how much Nigeria is earning and how these monies are being disbursed.
For a participant, Miss Aderoke Ige of Justice Development and Peace commission Ibadan, the workshop was an eye opener having revealed that government agencies like NEITI have done a lot to improve transparency and accountability in the system.
Ige, who is also a lawyer, said, it was remarkable to know that NEITI was desirous to partner with civil societies by providing them with the necessary tools to engage government and companies in the sector.
She expressed that optimism that the advocacy capacity of CSOs in the Southwest will expand in line with their mandates. Speaking at the workshop, the Team Leader Outreach for NEITI, Mrs. Obageli Onuorah, said there are several recommendations and findings in the reports that if implemented will reform the oil and gas sectors.
According to her, it is critical in getting the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) passed that will unbundle the NNPC, which will really put in place fiscal policy that could grow the sector.
The civil societies organization, she said, are seen as unbiased arbiter, who should take it from there. “They are the ones to take the bite, they are the ones to ask the necessary questions and hold both government and companies accountable.” The training is to build capacity for them to understand what the audit is all about and to select areas they want to run their advocacies on.