The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative has appealed to the broadcast media to develop special programmes that will help educate Nigerians on extractive industries transparency governance issues.
The Executive Secretary, Mr. Waziri Adio made the appeal in Abuja while on a visit to some government owned media organisations.
Mr. Adio explained that many Nigerians especially in local communities have little or no knowledge on oil, gas and mining issues, the relationship with the work of NEITI and how these issues affect their daily lives.
The Executive Secretary remarked that public education, information and enlightenment at the grassroot were necessary to explain to the people how the extractive industry works and why poor management of revenues from the sector has contributed to poverty in Nigeria in the midst of plenty.
He observed that it would require the intervention of radio, television and news agencies for Nigerians to appreciate the work of NEITI through the creation of innovative grassroot based news and programmes that will broadcast NEITI messages in the local languages of the diverse rural audience.
The visit took the Executive Secretary to Nigeria Network Authority-NTA, Voice of Nigeria –VON and News Agency of Nigeria –NAN. It was part of efforts by NEITI to build partnerships with the broadcast media; seek the support in the dissemination of NEITI audit reports and recommendations. Mr Adio described the FRCN, NTA, VON, and NAN, as leaders with enormous professional influence in the media industry and called for collaboration with NEITI.
He further explained that contrary to popular opinion, natural resources have been a blessing to the Nigerian state:
“It is the mismanagement of natural resource revenues which often lead to conflicts, environmental degradation and lack of development and upgrade of critical infrastructure that make them look like curses to the people” Mr. Adio lamented.
The Executive Secretary disclosed that although Nigeria has earned over $545Billion from the oil and gas sector alone in 15 years, the huge revenue has not transformed the life of the average Nigerian for the better.
He explained that it is to change the status quo and reverse the notion of resource curse that informed the existence of NEITI and appealed to the broadcast media to support the efforts by using the NEITI’s audit reports, policy briefs and other outputs to develop content for news and programmes that would make meaning to the average Nigerian.
“We (NEITI and the Media) have a common goal which is to hold government to account on behalf of the people. We need to partner with one another. While we leverage on your platforms to reach the people and have our voice amplified, you need our work as inputs and content to your news and programmes. While we provide you with the technical expertise, information and data you need to support government’s programmes with facts and figures, you provide the space for NEITI to disseminate information and educate Nigerians on natural resource management with the end goal of bringing about shared prosperity for all Nigerians”.
He urged the media to join the NEITI in propagating the slogan - ‘Be like Nigeria’. According to Mr. Adio, “For too long, Nigeria has been used as a symbol of the negative, but we can change the narrative by learning from our present situation to guard against a re-occurrence of our history of waste and mismanagement. Our natural resources should be used to jump start the economy, provide infrastructure and reduce poverty, not the opposite. “
He extolled the leadership provided by the NTA, NAN, and VON in the media profession in Nigeria and appealed for their continuing support.
The Director- General of NTA, Yabuku Mohammed welcomed the NEITI Executive Secretary with a promise to put the services of the organisation at the disposal of NEITI using the network wide reach to advance the process.
At the Voice of Nigeria, the Director General, Mr. Osita Okechukwu remarked that NEITI has remained the backdrop of anti-corruption fight in Nigeria. He lamented that the non-implementation of past NEITI audit reports is the bane of Nigeria’s present economic woes and offered NEITI, the VON online platform to propagate its messages.
Receiving the NEITI team at the News Agency of Nigeria, the Managing Director, Mr Bayo Onanuga described NEITI’s reports as “dependable accounts of the plunder of a country’s wealth”. He pledged support NAN to NEITI and the availability of its various news platforms and channels for dissemination purposes.
The NEITI Executive Secretary has earlier undertaken similar visits to other leading print media houses in Abuja and Lagos.