By Victoria Ojeme
Chairman of Dutch-led Voluntary Principles Initiative (VPI) Mr Ronald Roosdorp, last weekend promised to partner with the Federal Government, to ensure protection of human rights in the extractive industry.
The initiative, which was established in 2010 by coalition of civil society groups in collaboration with the Netherlands Embassy, seeks to prevent violence in the extractive industries in Nigeria.
Roosdorp, who led a delegation of the group, said this at a news conference on the outcome of their consultative meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja.
He said that the initiative was designed by multi-stakeholders to give practical guidelines on ways to prevent violence in the extractive industry and promote revenue generation.
“The initiative is targeted at promoting human rights through prevention of violence in the extractive industry.
“It will help to create awareness on the need for engaging host communities and the extractive industry in dialogue.
“What we have done so far is to visit the oil company sites in Eket, Akwa Ibom and mining sites in Nassarawa State.
“We have also visited Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Justice, as well as Mines and Steel, in the bid to create awareness about the initiative.
“Our objective is to partner with government on ways to prevent security risks in the extractive industry, encourage capacity training, creation of employment opportunities and attract foreign investments.”
Mr Anthony Ojukwu, Executive Secretary of National Human Rights Commission, gave assurances of partnership with the group, in line with the mandates of the commission.
According to him, “We are joining you in advocacy to ensure that the initiative internalised in our operations.
“We will partner with you and give you our maximum cooperation to achieve targets.”
Also, Mr Joel Bisina, who represented the non-governmental organisations, said that the role of civil societies in the initiative was to promote effective monitoring and implementation of the policy.
He said NGOs would work with the expected mandate to strengthen efforts for creation of common ground to discuss way forward for tackling human rights challenges in extractive industry.
“Our responsibility is also to monitor activities in the extractive industry through the initiative; we will emphasise the need for proper implementation through knowledge based-advocacy,” Bisina said.
He advised security agencies to always deploy security personnel to oil, gas and mining sector, to guarantee prevention of human rights violation in extractive industry host communities.
VPI comprises 31 companies in oil and mining industry, 13 civil society organisations and 10 member countries