Nigeria will continue to embrace transparency in the extractive sector because it is in the country’s overriding national interest to do so, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this during a bilateral meeting with the Chairman of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), Mr. Fredrik Reinfeldt, on the side-lines of the just-concluded EITI Beneficial Ownership Conference in Jakarta, Indonesia.
He said, “Transparency in this sector is very important for Nigeria. It is in our enlightened self-interest to do so because of the strategic nature of this sector to our economy. So we are doing this more for ourselves.
“These are commitments that we made with all sense of seriousness, not because we are looking for applause or commendation, but because we are convinced they are in our best interests.”
At the bilateral meeting on Monday, the Vice President reaffirmed the Buhari administration’s commitment to a sustained EITI implementation in Nigeria and the establishment of a publicly accessible register of the ultimate owners of companies operating in the country.
Earlier in his keynote address, Prof. Osinbajo had noted that the EITI implementation was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s anti-corruption drive, and the commitment the President made at the May 2016 London Anti-Corruption Summit.
The Vice President pledged that the administration will continue to support the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) to deliver on its mandates.
The EITI Chairman, a former Prime Minister of Sweden, commended Prof. Osinbajo for his “outstanding speech” at the opening plenary, and pledged that the EITI board and secretariat will continue to support Nigeria in its initiatives. Reinfeldt also praised Nigeria for attaining “meaningful progress” at the last validation despite the complexity of EITI operation in Nigeria.
Validation, which provides an independent assessment of EITI implementation, is used to assess whether a country implementing the EITI has met the requirements for compliance with the EITI Standard.
The EITI, a global standard to promote prudent management of oil, gas and mineral resources, is implemented in 52 countries, including Nigeria, which signed up to the initiative in 2003 and started implementation in 2004. The implementation of EITI in Nigeria is backed by the NEITI Act 2007. Nigeria is regarded as one of the leading EITI-implementing countries as its operations have shaped the evolution of the global body.
The EITI Beneficial Ownership Conference brought together representatives of governments, companies and civil society groups to exchange ideas and share practices on how to end secret ownership in the extractive sector in all EITI-implementing countries by January 2020.
Others at the bilateral meeting include the Minister of State for National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who is also a member of the EITI board; the Nigerian Ambassador to Indonesia, Mr Hakeem Balogun; and the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr. Waziri Adio. Accompanying the EITI chairman were Mr. Eddie Rich and Mr. Pablo Valverde, both of the EITI Secretariat in Oslo, Norway.