President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has directed all agencies affected by the audit reports of Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiate (NEITI) to recover the outstanding $9.6 billion uncovered by the audit exercise in the oil and gas sector.
The President, who gave the directive during a visit by the board and management of NEITI at the State House, requested the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to immediately set in motion the process of reconstituting the Inter Ministerial Task Team to implement NEITI’s findings and recommendations to be constituted by high ranking officers with appropriate levels of authority
He commended NEITI for its courage, diligence and commitment to transparency and accountability in the management of the extractive sector, which has resulted in the exposure of under payments and under assessments of what companies in the industry ought to pay to the government’s coffers.
A statement signed by the Executive Secretary, NEITI, Zainab Ahmed, Tuesday, said, President Jonathan also directed that NEITI principles and operations be fully integrated into the on-going government’s economic reform agenda
He commended NEITI for winning the global award for Nigeria as the best implementing country of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) and reaffirmed the Federal Government’s commitment to sustain the nation’s ranking by the global body.
The Chairman of NEITI, Ledum Mitee, called for the President’s intervention to address the funding challenges facing the organisation.
He said: “NEITI’s budgetary provision has continued to dwindle whilst its activities remain on steady expansion and the situation has worsened to the extent that it now threatens the agency’s continued performance of its core functions”
Mitee also appealed to the President to ensure that all outstanding NEITI findings and recommendations in the extractive industry are implemented.
“This would not only help a great deal in the revenue drive of this administration but would help to underline the fact that NEITI exists mostly for the purpose of helping to remedy identified gaps and not just fault finding,” he stressed.
The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, promised to ensure that NEITI’s intervention in the extractive sector would be adequately aligned with ongoing economic programmes especially on extractive revenue resources management.
“NEITI’s activities and benefits are critical to government’s reform initiatives. We can no longer ignore the need to work closely with NEITI to achieve integrated approach to our economic reforms,” she said.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Musa Mohammed Sada, said that NEITI’s outing at the recently held EITI global conference in, Sydney Australia was impressive.
Sada said EITI provides a rare opportunity, which Nigeria must explore positively in the on-going reforms. The Global Conference was a big forum where NEITI made Nigeria proud.
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Deziani Allison-Madueke who was also at the meeting, commended NEITI for the quality of its work and engagements in the industry and called for closer cooperation with her ministry and affiliate parastatals.
Information from The Guardian was used in this report.