‘Why President should implement oil sector reforms’
CHAIRPERSON of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), Ms. Clare Short, has tasked the Federal Government to summon enough political courage to commence immediate implementation of the needed reforms in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.
Addressing State House correspondents at the Defence House, Abuja, after a closed door meeting with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Short expressed the belief that the reforms could take a firm root with the implementation of the recommendations of the reports of the advocated oil sector reforms spearheaded by the Nigerian Extractive Transparency Initiative (NEITI), regretting that lack of reforms had retarded the pace of development of the sector.
According to Short, EITI appreciates the progressive works of NEITI in its quest to ensure transparency and accountability in the extractive industry, noting that the present administration’s anti-corruption posture could serve as a major boost to its previous efforts, maintaining that her visit was to further push for the reforms, particularly now that the country has a new government.
Short, a former Member of Parliament (MP) representing Birmingham, Ladywood Constituency in the United Kingdom as well as a former UK Secretary of State for International Development, said the government should as a matter of urgency commence the implementation of the suggestions proffered in the various audit reports of operations in the sectors by the NEITI.
Accompanied by officials of the NEITI, led by its Chair of the Board, Ledum Mitee and Executive Secretary, Zainab Ahmed, Short frowned at serial corrupt practices within Nigeria’s oil sector and expressed optimism that the present government would implement some of the suggested reforms in the sector.
She said it was her organization’s duty to ensure compliance of agreement by EITI’S member states to maintain transparency, saying her visit was to synergize with Nigerian government to ensure transparency within the extractive sector
In his short remarks earlier, Mitee, noted that the sector had suffered setback and loss of several billions of Naira accruable to the federation over the years due to lack of political will to implement findings and recommendations of its audit reports.
He said that the reports exposed several cases of mismanagement, under-payment of taxes and royalties, under-assessment of operational processes as well as other lapses.
According to Mitee, the advocated reforms, if implemented, would help remedy the sector and make needed contribution to national development.
Short’s visit is being considered as a global endorsement of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s commitment to good governance, transparency and accountability, which are in line with the principles of transparency and openness being canvassed by the EITI.
The President had reportedly listed implementation of the findings and recommendations of NEITI’s audit reports on operations within Nigeria’s extractive sector as a priority for his administration in his first 100 days in office.
Short is expected to observe a meeting of the Inter-ministerial Task Team set up by the Federal Government to implement the findings and recommendations contained in the NEITI audit reports within the duration of her three days visit.
Nigeria joined EITI in 2003 and subsequently began implementation of its principles in 2004, when NEITI was established.
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