The Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) has expressed satisfaction with the contributions of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) towards the on-going reforms of the nation’s extractive industries.
The Chairman, Senate Committee, Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Senator Omotayo Alasoadura stated this when he led his colleagues on an oversight visit to the NEITI Secretariat.
His words: “the Senate and Nigerians are happy with NEITI given the courage and boldness the agency exhibits in the pursuance of its assignments over the years resulting in the positive reforms that we have witnessed in the sector”.
Senator Alasoadura re-affirmed the commitment of the Senate to continue its support to NEITI through improved budgetary provisions. The Chairman described NEITI as a “special agency” of government deserving of special attention by way of adequate funding.
He explained that the issues raised by the NEITI Industry Audit reports are receiving the attention of the Senate, and expressed dismay over poor funding of the agency.
As part of measures to address the funding challenges experienced by NEITI, the committee chair said the Senate may need to review the NEITI law to enable the agency retain a percentage of revenues recovered from the extractive companies.
While welcoming the committee, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr. Waziri Adio identified the need for a new law for the petroleum sector as one priority area that the Senate needs to pay immediate attention.
The Executive secretary used the opportunity to present NEITI’s latest policy brief titled “The Urgency of a new Petroleum Sector Law” to the committee. Mr. Adio said the urgency of a new petroleum sector law was the focus of the policy brief.
He informed the committee that the policy brief examined Nigeria’s challenges in enacting an over-arching law for the petroleum sector despite repeated attempts, and the resultant huge negative economic implications and revenue losses.
According to him, and quoting from the policy brief, “Nigeria’s petroleum bill is perhaps one of the most important bills ever to be contemplated in Nigeria’s history, yet the one that has taken the most time and generated the most activity without legislation”, noting that Nigeria may have lost about $200 billion as a result of the absence of a new law in the petroleum sector.
He advised that a piece-meal rather than an omnibus approach to the passage of the law be adopted, and underlined the need for the law to have robust transparency, accountability and efficiency measures.
Mr. Adio said that as an agency saddled with the responsibility of ensuring transparency and accountability in the extractive industries, NEITI has a legitimate interest in the bill.
He therefore urged the Senate to work with all the relevant stakeholders to ensure that a new petroleum law is prioritized, enacted and used as one of the strategies for economic recovery.
The Executive Secretary informed the committee that NEITI is currently confronted with serious financial challenges capable of hampering its core mandate, and appealed to members to do everything within their powers to rescue the agency.
He thereafter thanked the Senate for the opportunity provided to NEITI to brief the Upper House on the findings of its 2013 oil, gas and solid minerals audit reports.