Abuja — Stakeholders in the extractive sector have said unless Nigeria prioritises transparency and accountability in the nation's oil, gas and mining sector, the benefits of the resources may not trickle down to the masses.
The experts, including Country Manager, Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), Murjanatu Gawa, Executive Secretary, Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Waziri Adio, Program Coordinator, Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC), Tengi George-Ikoli, Editor, Extractive360, Juliet Alohan noted that though Nigeria is currently being rated as leading transparent country under EITI guidelines, the benefits of the nation's abundant resources have not been felt by the populace.
Speaking in Abuja at the launch of a new online platform, Extractive360, which aimed at deepening the implementation of transparency and accountability principles in Nigeria's oil, gas and solid minerals sectors, Gawa said the implementation of EITI in Nigeria has brought increased revenue to government coffer and increased efficiency in the sector.
Stressing that platforms, such as Extractive360 remained key to actualising the objectives of EITI, Gawa said the recent rating of Nigeria by the global board of the group was only an indication that the country was on the right track.
She said the development does not mean that the country has no transparency and accountability challenges in the sector.
Gawa said: "What this also means is that so much work needs to be done. We need to EITI to strengthen companies and government system. "
Speaking on the new platform, she added, "You must get things done right, the site should be a good platform for Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and others, to disseminate information on happening in the sector," she said.
In her contribution, George-Ikoli insisted that Nigeria could fall into another economic shortfall should the prices of crude oil slip, adding that the country's Excess Crude Account (ECA) has fallen to only about $183 million.
She said: "A little dip in oil prices is all that is required to transition us back into a recession. With savings in our Excess Crude Account of $183 million as reported by the Director, Funds in the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Mohammed Usman, yesterday, March 27, 2019, Nigeria has no 'rainy day' fund to stabilise her economy when; and it is 'when' and not 'if' the monsoon hits.
"Nigeria must therefore, use all her natural resources to develop other sectors of her economy such that her revenue base is independent of cyclical nature and fluctuations associated with commodities like crude oil."
Adio, who was represented by the Director, Legal, Peter Ogbobine, said NEITI would stand with any organisation, medium and platform that strive to deepen the implementation of transparency and accountability principles as championed by the EITI.
He urged the platform to remain credible and a tool that would assist in setting the agenda and to shape the conversation on natural resource governance issues and extractive industries reforms.
"Based on the above expectations, NEITI will associate with Extractive360.com to advance the cause of extractive resource governance in Nigeria, As a transparency watchdog, EITI will always stand with any organisation, medium and platform that strive to deepen the implementation of transparency and accountability principles as championed by the EITI," Adio said.
Also speaking at the event, Alohan said the platform would create sustainable society through prudent management of Nigeria's extractive resources and ensure prudency in the utilisation of extractive resources through sustained information and advocacy.
Alohan disclosed that the platform is targeted at empowering citizens with reports that relate with and understand, especially with the use of infographics and pictures.