The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has described as laudable the decision by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to make public its audited accounts for the first time in its history.
NEITI said that the move is in fulfilment of a pledge made by the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Mele Kyari, to espouse his commitment to transparency by making public the corporation's audited account which he, Kyari, acceded to on the spot.
"We welcome the eventual fulfilment of this important pledge and obligation. Given NNPC's antecedents and its prominent role in the sector and in the country, the publication of its audited accounts is positive, signalling more openness for the oil and gas sector and for Nigeria," the Executive Secretary, NEITI, Waziri Adio, said.
He added: "When combined with the monthly reports that NNPC started publishing in 2016, this development marks a sea-change for a national oil company that used to be renowned for opacity.
"We urge NNPC to make this a routine practice and to mainstream transparency into all facets of its operations," Adio added.
NEITI however called on the NNPC to go further by publishing its previous audited accounts and in open data formats so that the reports can be more accessible to citizens who are the shareholders of the corporation.
"NEITI also urges NNPC to strengthen and sustain its commitment to data mainstreaming and systemic disclosure," Adio noted.
The organisation said that it was working closely with the NNPC in that direction through a joint committee on remediation and mainstreaming.
"The committee set up by the two organisations, was tasked with the responsibilities of examining the status of legacy and other lingering issues about NNPC in NEITI's reports over the years and to recommend workable strategies for resolving the issues.
"The committee was also charged to devise action plans on systematic disclosure of information on NNPC's operations in an open and accessible format, as well as data mainstreaming, among others.
"The work of the NEITI-NNPC joint committee on addressing the remedial issues is already at an advanced stage and the report will be made public very soon," the organisation stated.
It noted that as part of its strategic plan and in line with the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), NEITI has of late embraced proactive and constructive engagements with entities covered under its reports with a view to reducing audit issues, deepening commitment to transparency, and encouraging proactive disclosures.
"We do not want to be the only entity talking about and practising transparency. There is little use being an island of transparency. Our goal is for all our stakeholders to believe in and model transparency.
"And to demonstrate our commitment to this new way of working, we are engaging with all covered entities bilaterally and collectively on outstanding issues and how we can further push the boundaries of openness," NEITI stressed.