Is the heavenly reward no longer worth waiting for?By Fortune Eromosele

The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, NILDS, and the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter, NNRC, yesterday, unveiled a Toolkit document for the proper legislation of Legislators such as the National Assembly.

The document, titled “Extractive Industry Toolkit to Aid Law Making, Oversight and Representation by Legislators” was unveiled by the Director General, NILDS Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman  and Chairman, Expert Advisory Panel, NNRC, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia in Abuja.

While unveiling the document, Sulaiman said the NILDS-NNRC Toolkit will play an effective technical decision-making role as well as transparency and accountability in the management of oil, gas and mineral wealth of Nigeria for the good of all Nigerians.

He said, “This process commenced in 2019 and despite the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Institute and NNRC continued to work on various aspects of developing this toolkit because we are convinced of its value to Nigeria.

“This legislative guide on the extractive sector is coming at a very important time when oil revenues are dwindling, a fact made worse by the coronavirus pandemic. It is also being unveiled when the government (the Executive and the National Assembly) are committed to passing the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

“The Toolkit principally draws from the Natural Resource Charter (NRC) and provides Templates for conducting independent analysis of laws, sectors and issues within the natural Resource space.”

The DG further noted that the toolkit if properly implemented, the legislative interventions outlined in the guide have the potential to address some of the issues in Nigeria’s extractive sector.

According to him, “The measures identified can support lawmakers in developing legislations with adequate safeguards, checks and quality controls to guard against conflicts of interest and undue discretion.

“The Guide not only seeks to build the capacity of legislators to understand the extractive sector but also outlines strategies that legislators can use to deepen oversight of the sector through mechanisms such as audits, oversight visits, as well as corporate transparency and monitoring.

“We recommend it for Legislator at the National Assembly, relevant committees of the Assembly and other stakeholders including Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government as well as CSOs, media and the general Public.”

He however, thanked the Leadership of the National Assembly under Sen. Ahmad Lawan, Ph.D., CON, President of the Senate and Chairman, NILDS Governing Council and the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Femi, Gbajabiamila, Speaker, HOR & Alternate Chairman, NILDS, for supporting the Institute through this process.

In his remarks, Mr Odein Ajumogobia, Chairman, Expert Advisory Panel, NNRC, asserted that the Toolkit is designed to improve the knowledge of existing legislators in general and those charged to govern within the relevant legislative committees into the extractive industry legislature.

He maintained that “It is designed to ensure that knowledge of the extractive industry is institutionalized and reposed within a credible and effective institution committed to ensuring current and future National Assemblies learn from the mistakes from the past, draw perspectives from more successful regions and are capable of charting an informed path forward for the extractive industry.”

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Ajumogobia noted that laws and bills can be assessed using the methods within the toolkit for a better grasp of the pervasive issues and the available options for resolution.

He further asserted that the toolkit comes at an opportune time for Nigeria to resolve and consolidate its petroleum resource gains to diversify the economy, amplifying the gains from solid minerals.

“The toolkit also provides a platform for the discourse, for the industry, MDA’s, civil society organizations and media to mainstream the NRC approach and principles in better understanding issues and advocating for improvements in the extractive industry as a whole”. He added.

He said, “We anticipate that the curriculum developed using the Toolkit will enrich the principles within the Natural Resource Charter and will be sued to deepen the understanding of extractive resource governance across the federal and sub-national parliaments for better resource management in Nigeria for the benefit of the public.”

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