By Obas Esiedesa
THE Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has pledged to support the process that would build the capacity of mining host communities in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to negotiate better community development agreements with mining companies.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji who made the pledge during a visit by the Centre for Transparency Advocacy, CTA, said a good knowledge of contract negotiation would help the mining host communities reach sustainable Community Development Agreements with the mining companies.
Dr. Orji who harped on the importance of having transparent contracts between the communities and the companies, said it would allow the communities to benefit from the activities of the companies in their area and help the companies with a conducive environment to operate in.
He noted that “NEITI is very available to discuss issues concerning community development agreements and contract transparency that will help communities draft community development agreements that address their concerns in terms of roads, hospitals, schools and other infrastructure when the companies blast stones.
“A good agreement is easy for citizens to buy into and we are here to support such noble goals and processes that address such issues. We are here to make sure these companies are sensitive to their corporate social responsibilities that will help address development gaps in the mining communities”, he added.
Earlier, the Executive Director of CTA, Faith Nwadishi explained a survey conducted by the group as part of a project to promote the cultural values and rights of the original inhabitants of the FCT revealed that most community members do not have adequate knowledge of the community development agreement.
According to her, “While interacting with communities, we found that communities lack the appropriate skills on negotiating for community development agreements hence negotiating a good contract with communities is a big challenge.
“The process leading to the signing of the agreement is shrouded in secrecy, inclusion of confusing clauses that are of no benefit to the communities and generally promotes opacity, environmental degradation and of no tangible economic benefit to the communities”, she added.