By Obas Esiedesa, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has charged the new board of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, to ensure that the agency continues in its quest for transparent and accountable management of Nigeria’s natural resource revenues.

President Buhari who gave the charge on Thursday at the inauguration of NEITI’s newly constituted 15-member National Stakeholders Working Group, NSWG, in Abuja reaffirmed the Federal Government’s ‘irrevocable’ commitment to the implementation of the principles, objectives, and standards of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, EITI, in Nigeria’s oil, gas and mining sectors.

A statement by the agency’s Head, Communications and Advocacy, Obiageli Onuorah, said the President who was represented at the ceremony by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha commended NEITI for its work in enthroning transparency in the extractive sector.

He noted that “the extractive industry is very strategic to Nigeria’s economy and hence central to the administration’s economic agenda. Secondly, transparency and accountability in the management of our national resources is equally central to the anti-corruption agenda of this government. Nigeria is therefore irrevocably committed to the implementation of EITI in the oil, gas, and mining industries”.

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He added: “Our faith in the EITI process is not just because it is key to these two key government agendas, but also because, over the years, NEITI has demonstrated a high degree of competence, integrity, and commitment to the values that the country requires to achieve economic growth and development in the sector through the availability of reliable information and data required for national planning and reforms. It has also supported phenomenal revenue growth in the sector through meticulous application of EITI principles”.

He urged the board to ensure that NEITI continues to preserve these virtues for the benefit of all Nigerians and for future generations, stressing that the new board must preserve the noble virtues for which NEITI is known and be non-partisan as NEITI is non-political and has maintained dignified neutrality all through almost two decades of its existence.

“NEITI is not just a local agency of government, but part of an international organization. Hence it must be seen to comply with the principles of the international EITI. Your mandate as the Board of this organization is to ensure effective EITI implementation in Nigeria by providing policy and strategic direction, guidance, monitoring, and oversight to the EITI process in Nigeria”, he noted.

In his response, the Chairman of the new board, Mr. Olusegun Adeyemi Adekunle, a renowned public administrator and immediate past Federal Permanent Secretary, General Services in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation thanked the President for the confidence reposed on them and opportunity to serve.

He assured the President that the new board under his watch will push the boundaries of transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s extractive industries. He committed to implementing fully the principles of the global EITI and strengthening the ongoing reforms in Nigeria’s extractive sector.

On his part, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji who is also a member and serves as Secretary to the Board, applauded the timely decision of the Federal Government to reconstitute the NEITI Board.

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“The NSWG is central to the work of NEITI. The constitution of this Board will enable NEITI reassume its leading position among the global EITI implementing countries”.

Other members of the 15 -Man NEITI Board include the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Mines and Steel Development representing Government Extractive Industries, Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), representing Extractive Industries Revenue and Accountability, while the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will be representing the National Oil and Gas Company.

The board also has a representative of the International Oil Companies (IOCs). The civil society organisations have Mr. Peter Egbule representing them while the Presidents of Nigeria Mining & Geosciences Society and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, are representing Extractive Industries Professional Unions on the board.

There are also six zonal representatives on the Board. They are; Dr Bashir Bature Gafai (an Oil and Gas accountant) for the North-West, Dr Iliya Gashinbaki (Accountant) representing the North-East, Dr Godwin Akor Ogwuche, North-Central, Mr Nze Joe Ibeh, South-East while the South-South and South-West are represented by Awowo Christian and Professor Damilola Olawuyi respectively.

This is the 5th governing board to be appointed for NEITI. By the NEITI Act 2007, the Chairman and members have four-year tenure and are on a part-time basis, while the Executive Secretary has five-year tenure and is on full-time appointment.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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