June 28, 2016

Experts task FG on critical sector’s reform

By Ediri Ejoh

There are indications that the country’s energy sector may be far from reaping good returns unless it adopts the necessary structural reforms on its institutions and processes to effect the changes it deserves, experts said.

This were the views of some experts at the ongoing training in Oil and Gas Reporting, organized by the Natural Resource Governance Institute, NRGI, in collaboration with the School of Media and Communication, Pan-Atlantic University, Wole Soyinka Institute for Investigative Journalism and the Premium Times.

Speaking on the theme: Transparency and Accountability in Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Sector, the Nigeria Officer, NRGI, Dauda Garuba, the Coordinator of NRGI said there is need for the reformation of institutions and processes, including unbundling of NNPC.

His words: “There should be enforcement of fiscal responsibility and procurement laws at all levels of oil revenue spending, including value for money audit, saving for a raining day through diversification and investment for the future (SWF, Equalisation fund, etc), with clear legislative frameworks about management.

“Creation of necessary linkage between oil industry and other sectors of the economy, de-linking from portfolio investors, access to information on oil revenue in budget and actual expenditure to empower citizens to hold government to account (Sustain ongoing NNPC publication of earnings from crude oil).

“Contract transparency and beneficial ownership – to address tax avoidance/invasion and strengthen media and citizen groups’ capacity to do shadow-monitoring of public officials and oil company operators and creation of civil society-media platforms to push for effective natural resource accounting.”

He further called for robust financial management and legislation systems, independent auditors-general, strong parliament, legislature/active civil society, media, informed electorate

According to him, the country’s energy industry has overtime been the most investigated industry in Nigeria “probably, with least reform efforts and consequently, the least responsive to even little reform efforts.”

He called for diversification of the country’s economy, as it has a load of wealth of natural resources which houses over ´34 commercially viable mineral resources.”

Also speaking, the Managing Partner, Sterling Partnership, Mr. Israel Aye, called for legal framework, which requires that such laws, regulations and policies governing the industry should be unambiguous, comprehensive, flexible, transparent, dynamic and practical.

He explained that the “Framework should be responsive to Nigeria’s peculiar environment and not merely an unsuccessful mimicry of global standards.”

He added that passing the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB into law is fundamental to providing certainty to regulating the industry thereby attracting foreign investors which would in turn enhance development for the economy.