By Michael Eboh & Grace Udofia
ABUJA — The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, yesterday, lamented that the true owners of some oil blocs and other oil and gas assets in Nigeria cannot be identified from the records of the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC.
It also accused owners of some of the assets of suppressing certain information and manipulating their records in the CAC, making it impossible to link them with the assets.
Acting Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr. Ogbonnaya Orji, disclosed this in Abuja during a meeting with delegates from the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, EITI, led by the incoming chair, Mr. Fredrik Reinfeldt, and civil society organizations.
According to Orji, the issue of beneficial ownership as contained in EITI’s standards, requires the identity of the true owners of oil blocs, adding that records of the companies in the CAC are shrouded in secrecy and do not provide correct information about the true owners.
He stated that this had been a challenge in implementing this specific requirement of EITI, while he appealed to EITI to understand the peculiarities in the Nigerian environment.
He said: “Beneficial ownership requires us to explain or provide information on the owners of certain oil blocs. But Nigeria is one kind of country; that is why I say nobody is going to suspend us; when you think we are going down, we tend to rise up and surpass expectations.
“One challenge is that we try to reflect this issue of beneficial ownership in our report, but the CAC is where you register legitimate companies doing business in Nigeria. If you go to CAC, the information that you find have no relationship with what you know. That is, those you know are the owners of this oil blocs.
Reinfeldt lauds NEITI
In his remark, Reinfeldt, the incoming chair of EITI commended NEITI for its efforts at entrenching transparency in the extractive industry, adding that with some of its policy recommendations to the Federal Government, NEITI had been able to go further in its activities.
Speaking in the same vein, Deputy Head and Regional Director for Africa and Middle East of EITI, Mr. Eddie Rich, stated that the global body understood the challenges confronting NEITI, with regards to the reports.