By Yemie Adeoye & Ochuko Susuluwa
THE Chairman, National Stakeholders Working Group of NEITI, Professor Assis Asobie had said that NEITI a subnet of EITI has its ultimate goal which is eradication of poverty within the context of a sustainable development, emphasizing that the key instrument for achieving this goal is a frame work of transparency and accountability.
This he said in his opening remarks during the south-east road show held in Owerri, the Imo state capital recently even as he encouraged everyone to get a copy of the NEITI Act, 2007 from the secretariat in order to partner with NEITI to promote transparency and accountability in the extractive industries sector.
The event which was a stakeholders outing was carried out in the open to stimulate public evaluation of the work of an entity. Therefore, explaining to the people what the entity is established for and how such activities have impacted in the lives of people and above all to solicit external input for improvement and greater social relevance so that everyone can together eliminate all corrupt practices in the sector and eradicate poverty from the south-east zone of the entire nation.
In his speech, he gave detailed explanation of the purpose of NEITI, the role of the government and the civil society. He also stated how the federation account committee between June 1999 and December 2005 allocated over N15.9 trillion to federal government, state government and local government and how the revenue was also allocated. He further reiterated that the bulk of N10.671trillion or 67.5% went to state and local governments while N5.138 or 32.5% went to the federal government, giving a brief overview of what the NEITIâ€™â€™s audit report covered between the period of 1999 to 2005.
According to him,â€œ NEITIâ€™â€™s report will raise questions as to wether the oil companies paid to the federation all that they were supposed to pay, wether all that the federation agencies allocated on behalf of the country were swept into federation account or invested wisely, wether we precisely and accurately know how much oil and gas is taken out of the well by the oil and gas companies and more importantly questions regarding the accountability touching the issues of welfare directly and enabling people of states such as Anambra, Abia, Eboyin Enugu and Imo to ask governors, local governments chairmen and councilors to account for whatever little they must have received from the federationâ€™â€™s account and encourage the governors and the state house of assembly to stand up to demand their rights insisting that the federal government also accounts to the national assembly and to the state how much is produced as oil and gas and how much revenue is derived from the products and the formula for sharing that revenue.â€â€ he said.
Finally, quoted the words of Margaret Mead â€œNever underestimate the power of a few committed individual, they can transform the world. Let us be committed on positive change and work together as a team then Nigeria will be transformed.â€ he said.
Meanwhile, NEITI has also used the opportunity of the road show held recently at OwerriÂ to promote accountability and transparency around payment made by the extractive industries and revenues received from the sectors of companies.
In lieu of this, NEITI was created basically to improve transparency in public budget process stating to the fact that citizens can hold government to account for the use of revenues. In order words, it is not the whole process.
However it is best to see it as a flexible tool, which manifests differently in various political economies, albeit with a sharp focus revenue transparency.NEITI on this note is beneficial and accrue to implementing countries when it is treated as part of or entry point to broader effort to improve governance of resources revenue, promoting economic development and political stability, transparency in resource management to help prevent conflict and contribute to improve investment climate and enhancing public confidence and trust in government and attracts the support of international development community.
According to the concrete benefit of NEITI implementation to candidate and compliant countries, this can be achieved by implementing NEITI, enabling a country to have an accurate account of revenue paid to government by EI companies, leading to more efficient collection of taxes, royalties etc from these said El companies. As a result promote accountability which empowers citizens to better organise themselves to hold government and public agencies on account of how revenues are used.
Therefore, demonstrating national commitment to transparency and fundamental cornerstone of good governance, so as to improve sovereign and government creditworthiness.The FGN as regards the NEITI act, 2007 committed Nigerian to implementing NEITI in 2003, setting up a body to drive the process in 2004 which enacted a law to enforce it in 2007.
Moreso, the key objectives of the Nigerian extractive industry transparency initiative where stated to ensure due process and transparency in the payment to the Nigerian state by all attractive industry companies, to monitor and ensure accountability in the revenue receipt, eliminating all form of corrupt practices in the determination, payments, receipts and posting of revenue accruing to them, also by the government in the application of resource from payment received from EICs, ensuring conformity with all the principles of NEITI.Specifically, its benefit is in the creation of new, consensual framework for reporting and disclosure of payment and receipts of revenues round the sector. This automatically provides accurate data and credible information on flows of revenue, physical volumes and process issue in the sector, accepting of the imperative of accountability, ending corruption in revenue payments and receipt of the FGN from El companies, acceptance of need for transparency by the government in application of resources from payment, increasing rating of Nigeria and credibility of Nigerian Government in the international community.Finally, NEITI framework for reporting and disclosure is not a substitute for traditional or pre-NEITI frameworks and it is complementary but distinct, designed and applied in a framework of consensus between government relevant public agencies, the industry, private sector and civil society.