09 February 2012,m Sweetcrude, ABUJA – President Goodluck Jonathan has stated his commitment to promoting accountability and transparency in the nation’s oil and gas sector in view of recent experiences in the industry.
The president, who stated this yesterday while delivering a key note address at the on-going National Conference on Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) organised by the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), called for better management of revenue flows from the nation’s extractive industry.
According to the President, “Our recent experiences with the petroleum industry underscore the need to promote transparency and accountability and generally strengthen the governance processes in the industry so as to ensure maximum returns from the exploitation of our natural resources.”
He also stressed that government must appreciate the need to declare publicly what it has received from companies operating in the industry, and the importance of channeling such resources to policies and programmes that provide infrastructure, jobs and basic needs of Nigerians.
Jonathan, who was represented at the event by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke, said the global EITI initiative which Nigeria signed up to in 2003 aims to ensure that natural resources benefit all citizens “especially where they depend on those resources for their development.”
While pledging support to NEITI in the fight against corruption and loss of revenue in the extractive industry, Jonathan said “by signing onto this global initiative, government has undertaken that it will ensure that resources from oil, gas and other minerals are used for the benefit of all Nigerians.”
Jonathan noted that the NEITI National Conference is a deliberate effort to expand the scope of dialogue in the extractive sector. “By this conference, NEITI has opened another avenue for companies, governments at all levels, public and private sector, the larger civil society, and international organizations to join the debate,” he said.
Speaking earlier in welcome address, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed noted that in the last ten years, NEITI has conducted industry audits in the oil and gas sector but not many people understand the relevance of the exercise to national development, the methods and processes and why it should enjoy voluntary participation among companies and government agencies.
“This conference is an opportunity to examine the issues involved. It is also a platform to discuss how NEITI audits will help government and companies build citizens trust and social harmony,” she said.
She explained that the conference is coming at a time when a national debate is on-going over the use revenues from the Extractive sector to provide basic social infrastructure and other developmental needs in the country.
According to her, “It is important to state that the on-going debate over management of revenues from oil and gas, the subsidy debates, the series of probes by the National Assembly, increasing civil society, media and public inquiry into the process of revenue resources, management and how these have impacted on national development are in line with the goals and objectives of NEITI.
“In joining the EITI, the country’s major objective was to enthrone a regime of good governance, accountability and transparency in the extractive sector and to ensure that revenues from Nigeria’s abundant natural resources translate to good roads, water supply, housing, reliable electricity, security, health care, education and improvement of general well-being of all Nigerians,” she stated.