The Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari will take all necessary steps to implement the findings and recommendations contained in the Audit Reports of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI). The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo gave the assurance today while receiving the Chair of the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), Clare Short and her delegation at the Defense House, Abuja.
The Vice President reaffirmed the Federal Governments’ commitment to the implementation of the EITI principles as part of the plans to reform the oil and gas sector. Professor Osinbajo commended NEITI for its courage, diligence and commitment to corporate good governance of the oil, gas and mining industries. He said that the Federal Government will carefully study the Reports with a view to ensuring that the findings and recommendations guide government actions on the reforms.
The Chair of the EITI, Clare Short advised the government to consider a major shakeup in the oil and gas industry if the benefits from Nigeria’s abundant resources are to be felt by all Nigerians. “The NEITI Reports have all the information and data that will guide the government to reform the industry. It is also important that the government integrates the NEITI into its overall economic policy team.”
The Chairman of NEITI, Ledum Mitee appealed to the government to overhaul the Inter Ministerial Task Team (IMTT) set up to implement NEITI reports arguing that the Team has recorded very little progress.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI urged the government to take urgent steps to divest Nigeria’s interest in the joint ventures operations to free the Country from huge burden imposed by Joint Venture obligations.
Mrs Ahmed also advised the government to critically examine the management of domestic crude allocations, consider the removal of oil subsidy, abrogation of oil swap arrangement and take urgent steps to recover huge sums that are outstanding in the hands of companies as a result of underpayments, underassessment of taxes, rents and royalties.
The Nigeria joined the global EITI in 2003 and began implementation in 2004 and supported same with a law in 2007. The NEITI Audit Reports between 1999 and 2011 had revealed a total revenue loss of $9.8billion to the Federation. This loss is as a result of underpayments, underassessment of taxes, rents, royalties and other process lapses.
Out of the $9.8billion, NEITI working with other agencies has recovered $2.4 Billion. The breakdown of the recoveries shows that $1 billion was recovered from 1999 to 2004 Audit Reports, $550million was recovered from the NEITI Audit Reports of 2005, the 2006 to 2008 Audit Report led to a recovery of $447million while NEITI Reports of 2009 to 2011 made possible a recovery of $416 million.
Mrs Ahmed is optimistic that President Buhari’s administration will provide the necessary political will to enable NEITI recover the outstanding $7.4Billion into government coffers, to support national development.