By Udeme Akpan
Nigeria Natural Resource Charter, NNRC, has rated Nigeria low in the management of the nation’s oil and gas wealth.
In its Benchmark Exercise Report, BER, obtained by Vanguard, NNRC stated that: “the BER also notes that on issues of licensing, exploration and monitoring, that there has not been significant change since 2014. Nigeria, the BER notes, still does not meet the natural resource charter benchmark. Laws, policies and practices reveal absence of strategic impact assessment and poor disclosure of exploration and licensing information.
Monitoring of operations across every stage of projects is ineffective as the government agencies responsible lack some technical capacity and are not always sufficiently resourced.
“Oversight institutions are weak, inefficient and in some cases, compromised. It is however, expected that the component parts of the Petroleum Industry Bill will adequately address this when finally passed into law. But for the time being, not much has been achieved. The need for greater transparency in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector cannot be overemphasized if government’s efforts at growing the sector and effectively competing are to be achieved.
The government must in the coming months, prove to Nigerians that they have a plan to address this in the manifestos which we expect will be rolling out in quick succession shortly.
‘’We all have a role to play in ensuring this and we hope that these deliberations will result in a plan to collectively hold the government accountable to improving petroleum resource management.”
The report indicated that: ‘’The just released Benchmarking Exercise Report (BER) shows that the government has taken steps to improve transparency and accountability of public institutions, a development which stakeholders in the industry laud as commendable. The report equally notes that equally put in place are instruments to track public spending while information management systems have been deployed in government agencies with some recording significant improvements in service delivery.
“Equally notable from the report are efforts by the government to implement the principles of the open government partnership by launching the Nigeria open contracting portal. The report however, highlighted that public institutions in the oil and gas sector are yet to prioritise proactive disclosure of information and in places where this is available, it is quite limited, outdated and yet to meet internationally accepted standards. It further stated that oversight functions by requisite institutions are still ineffective yielding sub-optimal outcomes while accountability mechanisms expected to serve as a deterrent against fraud are not strictly enforced.”
It also added that: ‘’Natural resources can be a blessing or a curse for resource rich countries depending on how they are managed.