From Uche Usim, Abuja

The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) on Thursday inaugurated the recently re-constituted governing board and the Communications and Civil Society Steering Committee (CCSSC) towards deepening the successful implementation of global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) policies and programmes.

Speaking at the event which doubled as the public presentation of the 2019 industry audit reports for oil, gas and mining sectors, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji noted that the Committee was a creation of the Board of NEITI and enjoys concurrent tenure with the Board which lasts until June 2025.

He added that the Committee also serves as an advisory to the Board on communication and civil society matters.

Dr Orji further disclosed the civil society representative on the Board, Mr Peter Egbule, is the Chair of this Committee.

‘Other members of the Committee include the representatives of the oil and gas industry unions, gender, media, Publish What You Pay (PWYP), youths, professional association, academia, and People Living with Disabilities (PLwD).

‘The creation of this Committee by the Board was based on its conviction that the civil society and media are an integral part of the NEITI process, particularly in dealing with specific issues of civil society engagements, dissemination of NEITI reports and advocacy on the findings and recommendations of the reports and other policy products,’ he explained.

The NEITI CEO further described civil society and media as the most dependable allies to NEITI in the discharge of its statutory mandates.

He stated that the committee will serve in an advisory capacity and articulate all issues of EITI for implementation.

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He noted that over the years, NEITI’s engagements with civil society have been strictly guided by the “EITI Civil Society Protocol” which requires that civil society representatives are able to engage in public debates and express opinions about the EITI process without restraint, coercion or reprisal.

‘It also requires that civil society representatives are able to operate freely, communicate and cooperate with each other regarding the EITI process.

‘Furthermore, it requires that civil society representatives are able to be fully, actively and effectively engaged in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the EITI process and that civil society representatives are able to access public decisions and speak freely on transparency and natural resource governance issues and ensure that the EITI contributes to public debate.

‘This meeting will, therefore, acquaint members of the committee and other participants with the provisions of the EITI standards to enable you to locate and play your roles in the EITI process.

‘Let me assure you that under my leadership as the Executive Secretary, NEITI will continue to work with other relevant agencies to sustain and uphold the principles of the EITI Civil Society Protocol on freedom of expression; operations; association; engagement; and access to public-decision in all its dealings, relationship and engagements with the civil society and the media.

‘The tenets of the MoU which was jointly developed with the Civil Society and guides NEITI’s relationship with the third sector will be respected. Please go through the historical documents of NEITI-Civil Society Relations and build upon the legacies of the previous steering committee”, he added.

Dr Orji said that the members of this Communications/ Civil Society Steering Committee, by the inauguration, were now a major stakeholder in the NEITI process, representing the larger civil society.

He urged the members to see their selection as a call to service and opportunity to contribute their quota to the development of Nigeria, transform its oil, gas and mining sectors to generate the much-needed revenues which government needs at this time to meet the social and infrastructural needs of the citizens.