The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center, (CISLAC) with the support of PACT Nigeria through a grant from USAID ADVANCE Project, organized a one-day Civil Society Organizations´ Consultative Forum on NEITI Progress on the 4th September, 2009 at Bolton White Hotel, Garki, Abuja.
The forum, which drew over 30 participants from the civil society, International NGOs, NEITI Secretariat and the media, witnessed three paper presentations by experts. The papers include; “Assessment of the NEITI Process since Inception” by Dr. Sofiri King Peterside, “The Role of the Media in Promoting Transparency and Accountability in Nigeria´s Oil and Gas Sector”, by Bassey Udo and “NEITI Oil &Gas Audit Reports: Matters Arising” by Sam Odiba.
Goodwill messages were received from; PACT Nigeria, Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Coalition for Change (C4C), Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Nigeria and NEITI Secretariat. The forum also received presentation of progress reports by Publish What You Pay (PWYP) and CSOs engaging the NEITI process in Nigeria.
During plenary, participants observed as follows;
· That Nigeria´s status as foremost EITI implementing country is under threat
· That the long delays in conducting the NEITI audits is a major clog towards achieving its goals
· That Nigeria is seen globally as a weakling in the management of its extractive resource
· That the Office of the Accountant-Generation of the Federation (OAGF) plays a reactive role because revenue collecting agencies bypass it, and such flaws had not been corrected by the time 2005 audit was concluded
· That the 2005 Audit report showed that DPR had no improved capacity to interpret the MOUs
· That mere audit reports have not been able to correct the discrepancies and improve the extractive sector
· That the scope of audits as specified by NEITI NSWG failed to include Procurement audit as contained in the NEITI Act
· That the audits do not estimate the social and environmental cost of oil and gas exploration
· That there is difficulty in accessing the NEITI audit reports both in hard and electronic copy
There is lack of organized and coordianted donor funding for CSOs engaging the NEITI process in Nigeria
At the end of deliberations, partcipants agreed and recommended as follows;
· That Clauses of confidentiality as currently enshrined in the NEITI Act should be removed
· The National Assembly should as a matter of urgency constitute a committee that will oversight NEITI for effective implementation
· There is need to reorganise and strenghten the information and communications systems of the covered entities so that data collected cannot be lost
· Representative of CSOs in the National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG) of NEITI should be a nominee of the CSOs and must be rotational not on permanent basis
· That CSOs need institutional support from donor agencies in order to improve their capacity for effective engagement of the NEITI process
· That CSOs should come together and carry out a shadow report on the NEITI validation process
· The process of the 2006-2009 Audits of the NEITI should commence immediately
· FIRS should seek legal assistance in interpreting MOUs and the exact Tax obligations of operators.
· There is need to focus on specific areas such as DPR ( Measurement) , Accounting etc so that the current gaps do not emerge in the next audit reports
· CSOs should engage the NEITI process by generating annual or bi-annual social cost of oil exploration
· There should be synergy amongst CSOs working on extractive issues to adequately represent the voices of the communities
· There should be research and information sharing amongst media reporters covering extractive issues for better performance
At the end of the forum, participants commended the efforts of CISLAC and other CSOs engaging the NEITI process and urged them to step up actions that will ensure successful validation of Nigeria among the compliant countries of the world. They also commended Pact Nigeria and other donor agencies for their untiring support to civil society groups.
Auwal Musa Rafsanjani Faith Nwadishi
Executive Director National Coordinator
CISLAC PWYP Nigeria