EITI Threatens to Delist Nigeria

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Fredrik Reinfeldt

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Nigeria may be suspended from the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative if it fails to publish the audit report of the extractive industry which has been completed but has not been approved by the board of Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative which was sacked in 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration

| By Anayo Ezugwu | Feb 22, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT |

NIGERIA is at risk of being delisted from the global body of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, EITI, over the delay in the release the oil and gas and solid mineral reports for the year 2013. EITI on Monday, February 8, declared that there was a high probability of suspending Nigeria’s membership of the body, due to the absence of a board to approve the already completed reports.

Fredrik Reinfeldt, chairman, EITI, who led the delegates to Nigeria, said the global body understood why Nigeria had yet to meet the deadline, but was quick to state that it might be suspended. He commended Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, NEITI, for its efforts at entrenching transparency in the extractive industry, adding that with some of its policy recommendations to the federal government, NEITI had been able to go further in its activities.

The threat to delist Nigeria from the global body came on the heels of the NEITI, statement that it was difficult for it to identify the true owners of oil blocks as well as other oil and gas assets across the country. It lamented that the true owners of some oil blocs and other oil and gas assets in Nigeria could not be identified from the records of the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC.

It also accused owners of some of the assets of suppressing certain information and manipulating their records in the CAC, making it impossible to link them with the assets.

Ogbonnaya Orji, acting executive secretary, NEITI, said the issue of beneficial ownership as contained in EITI’s standards requires the identity of the true owners of oil blocs. He noted that records of the companies in the CAC are shrouded in secrecy and do not provide correct information about the true owners.

He stated that this had been a challenge in implementing this specific requirement of EITI, while appealing to EITI to understand the peculiarities in the Nigerian environment. “Beneficial ownership requires us to explain or provide information on the owners of certain oil blocs. But Nigeria is one kind of country; that is why I say nobody is going to suspend us; when you think we are going down, we tend to rise up and surpass expectations.

“One challenge is that we try to reflect this issue of beneficial ownership in our report, but the CAC is where you register legitimate companies doing business in Nigeria. If you go to CAC, the information that you find have no relationship with what you know. That is, those you know are the owners of these oil blocs,” he said.

Although EITI had extended the December 2015 deadline given to Nigeria to publish the reports by February 2016, it warned that the country risked being suspended if care was not taken. NEITI had explained that the non-constitution of a board for the agency was responsible for the delay in publishing the 2013 audit reports for the oil and gas sector as well as the mining industry.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in June 2015, dissolved the 247 boards of federal parastatals, which also affected the 15-member National Stakeholders Working Group, NSWG, of NEITI.

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