A group of Social Media Influencers (SMI) has called on the Federal Government to put in place modern and appropriate metering equipment to measure accurately the quantity of crude oil produced in Nigeria.

This was contained in a communique issued by the group at the end of a capacity building workshop on “The role of New Media in reporting the extractive sector” organized by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) for the SMIs in Lagos from 3rd to 5th May 2017.

Lamenting the negative effect of not knowing how much of Nigeria’s crude is produced or lifted due to inadequate metering facilities in the industry, the group noted that the installation of modern metering infrastructure is critical to curbing corruption and wastages in the sector.

The Social Media Practitioners’ call is consistent with recommendations of the various oil and gas industry audit reports by NEITI.

The NEITI Reports have disclosed that some of the meters used at midmonth to measure the crude oil produced by some of the oil and gas companies have not been maintained or calibrated. According to the NEITI reports, the implication is that Nigeria runs the risk of under or over-reporting of crude oil allocation to some of the oil companies and therefore called for regular maintenance and calibration.

The SM influencers also urged the Federal Government to address funding challenges confronting NEITI through improved budgetary allocation to enable the agency effectively deliver on its mandate and reduce revenue leakages in the sector.

Earlier, the Chairman of the Communications Committee of NEITI’s National Stakeholders’ Working Group, (NSWG) and veteran journalist Mr. Gbenga Onayiga urged social media influencers in the country to lead the advocacy for massive reforms in the management of the country’s oil, gas and mining sectors.

Mr. Onayiga identified social media influencers as critical partners in the implementation of NEITI’s public education and enlightenment programmes on prudent management of the country’s natural resources.

“The social media provides suitable platforms for NEITI to deepen its advocacy and engagements with multi-stakeholders especially the younger generation. The social media platforms will help disseminate basic information and data on the process and benefits of Nigeria’s implementation of the Standard of the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. This is to ensure that revenues from the sector support national development, reduce poverty and rescue the country from the syndrome of resource curse”, Mr. Onayiga stated.

He   identified the roles of the social media to include, dissemination of NEITI audit reports, simplification of issues, citizen’s mobilization, campaign and advocacy for implementation of recommendations, monitoring and evaluation of the results and impacts in the lives of the citizens.

Mr. Onayiga further noted that the task of promoting transparency and accountability by the social media is a role that must not be abdicated. He implored them to observe a high degree of responsibility, objectivity, accuracy, truth, balance, professional and self - regulation, quality content and responsibility in fulfilling this important role so as to earn public trust.

At the training, the participants were taken through the theory of resource curse, principles and objectives of the global Extractive industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) including NEITI’s process, methods, principles, impacts and benefits to the citizens.

Participants were also exposed to the governance of extractive industries, revenues streams in the industry and its management including the ongoing reforms in the industry by the Federal government, emerging issues and the revised EITI standard, as well as social media tools and platforms for reporting the extractive sector.

The Social Media Practitioners at the workshop established a forum known as Digital Media for Extractive Sector Reforms Advocates (DiMESRA).

The forum is to coordinate and facilitate cordial relationship between the social media practitioners and NEITI as well as other relevant bodies in Nigeria’s extractive industry. The body is also expected to regulate the activities of members and enforce sanctions where necessary.

The capacity building workshop for SMIs in Lagos was the second in the series by NEITI having held a similar workshop for practitioners in Abuja in 2016.

The program which is part of NEITI’s efforts at broadening its stakeholder’s engagement by integrating social media into its dissemination efforts, attracted major social media influencers within Lagos and its environs.

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