The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has described as regrettable that out of the $75 billion foreign direct investment, FDI, flowing into Africa, Nigeria has a meagre share of just $3 billion.
Speaking in Abuja in separate consultative meetings with leading Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, and forum of oil, gas and mining companies in the extractive sector, the Executive Secretary, NEITI, Ogbonnaya Orji, said the situation underscored why all hands must be on deck to eliminate all bottlenecks in the country’s business environment.
Orji called for closer collaboration and partnership with civil society, oil, gas as well as mining companies towards the implementation of ongoing reforms in the extractive industry in Nigeria.
He stated that the new approach by NEITI was to work with the government, companies and civil society to rebuild trust urgently required to promote inflow of FDI into the oil, gas and mining sectors.
A statement by the Head, Communications and Advocacy, NEITI, Obiageli Onuorah, stated that Orji “ expressed regrets over the complaints by oil companies that out of over $75 billion investments that came into sub Saharan Africa in the last few years, only $3 billion came to Nigeria”.
“It is time for us to reunite with mutual respect to address poor investments in the industry and I see my appointment as NEITI executive secretary as the instrument of that unification. Stakeholders’ unity is key because in transparency and accountability, every one gains,” he said.
During the meeting organised by the oil trade section of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, the executive secretary assured the companies that under his leadership, NEITI will be a pillar of trust, partnership and collaboration.
He pledged that NEITI would work with the companies and relevant government agencies to address the growing concerns over proliferation of levies and taxation, noting that the organisation will evaluate the roles of its strategic partners and devise new approaches to achieve results.
In a separate meeting with CSOs, Orji promised to enhance the capacity of the civil society to respond adequately to unfolding challenges associated with driving the reforms in the extractive industry in Nigeria.
“We will create the space for engagement and address every concern that you have. Trust that we will work with you to deliver on your mandate as enshrined in the civil society protocols set out in the EITI Standard,” he said.
He announced the formation of a civil society congress, where robust debates and constructive dialogue on the scope, dimension and stakeholders responsibilities to reform Nigeria’s extractive sector through consensus building will be held from time to time under NEITI- covered entities and donors’ collaboration.
Chair of the Companies’ Forum, Bunmi Toyobo, in his remarks, stated that the meeting was called to ask questions on Orji’s vision and how the stakeholders will support him to deliver on his mandate.
He lamented the huge burden of expectations from the extractive sector in Nigeria even in the face of dwindling production capacity and lack of competitiveness of the Nigerian extractive investment corridor as well as the uncertainty surrounding the future of fossil fuels.
In her remarks, a former member of the EITI Board, National Stakeholders’ Working Group of NEITI and chair of the civil society steering committee, Faith Nwadishi, described Orji it as a square peg in a square hole.
National Coordinator of Publish What You Pay, PWYP, Nigeria, Peter Egbule, noted that it is time to rebuild the civil society family.