Abuja — The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) yesterday disclosed that it was forging closer ties with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to unravel the actual owners of oilfields and other assets in the country.
NEITI disclosed that both organisations have resolved to establish a joint coordination committee to identify, document and disclose the owners under the country's implementation of "Beneficial Ownership" policy of the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
A statement by the NEITI's Head of Communications and Advocacy, Mrs. Obiageli Onuorah, noted that the decisions were taken at a meeting between the management of the two agencies held in Abuja.
Speaking during the meeting, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr. Ogbonnaya Orji described the CAC as a dependable ally in Nigeria's implementation of the global EITI's beneficial ownership disclosure requirements.
The NEITI executive secretary explained that the documentation of the owners of the assets would help to check illicit financial flows, terrorism financing, tax evasion and diversion of government revenues.
"The CAC has the institutional responsibility of keeping the register of all companies doing business in Nigeria while NEITI sits on information and data on oil assets, key players and investors in the extractive industries. We therefore need each other to build a consolidated data base on beneficial ownership disclosures.
"The knowledge repository in the two agencies makes it important for us to work together to ensure that the commitment made by Nigeria to the international community on effective implementation of beneficial ownership in the extractive industry is realised," Orji explained.
He described access to information by the citizens as the power to hold government and companies doing business in Nigeria accountable.
"The exclusion of information about our natural resources was at a huge cost to the Nigerian economy and affected Nigeria's optimisation of revenues from its natural resource wealth.
"With your cooperation and reputation, we can help our government fight the resource curse which is the reason the EITI and NEITI exist," Orji said.
He commended the Registrar General of CAC, Mr. Garba Abubakar for the reforms ongoing at the CAC and re-affirmed NEITI's readiness to forge closer ties with the commission to strengthen institutional reforms.
Abubakar assured of the CAC's irrevocable commitment to partner NEITI towards meeting the compliance standards set by the global EITI in beneficial ownership reporting.
He stated that the CAC was already working on a comprehensive beneficial ownership register that would be of global standard, stressing that since January 3 this year, all companies registering to do business in Nigeria were required to disclose the identity of their real owners.
"This information became a requirement by the CAC for purposes of beneficial ownership information in public interest for anyone who needs it and at no cost to other government agencies," he said.
He listed some of the reforms that have been introduced by the CAC to include the use of electronic workflows and digitisation of its processes including post - registration activities.
"From January 2021, CAC upgraded to an end-to end electronic registration, abolishing the printing of registration certificates", he explained.
The two agencies also agreed to expand collaboration as key members of Open Government Partnership (OGP) on ease of doing business and extractive revenues governance, transparency and accountability.