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Group Tasks Buhari On Implementation Of NEITI Audit Reports

By Eric Ojo, Abuja – The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), an Abuja based non-governmental organization (NGO) has urged President Mohammad Buhari to expedite the implementation of the recommendations of the annual reports of the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) in the past 10 years.

The cardinal objective of the NEITI Audit Report is to ensure that there is due process, transparency and accountability in what companies doing business in the extractive industry in Nigeria, pay to the government in the form of tax, royalty, bonuses and levies.

The NEITI Audit Report which is handled by independent Auditors also ensures that due process, transparency and accountability is strictly applied in what government receives, ensure that government receives what it is expected to receive and that companies pay what they are expected to pay to government as at and when due.

The Centre said the implementation of the recommendation NEITI Audit Reports will go a long way in recovering all revenues due to the citizens of Nigeria from the extractive industry. CISLAC however lamented that the lack of political will exhibited by previous administrations towards implementing remedial action emanating from recommendations from previous NEITI audit reports has regrettably culminated in the sorry state of affairs in the sector.

The Centre added that though such recommendations which had been reinforced by the reports of several probe panels and Committees set up by successive administrations, yet no concrete and pragmatic action was taken to redress the ugly situation.

CISLAC also expressed confidence in the ability and willingness of the NEITI to provide necessary information to assist the new administration of President Buhari in recovering such funds, adding that there will be no need to invest precious time and resources in setting up of any more superfluous Panels to conduct any fresh probes or investigations.

The Centre equally alleged that balance of about $11.6 billion (N2.32 trillion), which represents outstanding total dividends arising from loans and interest repayments from Federal Government’s investment in Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), credited to the NEITI Secretariat and other related funds, are yet to be remitted into the nation’s coffers and therefore unavailable to finance development for the citizens of our ailing country.

This figure, according to the Centre, if verified, is more than 50 per cent of the total expenditure in the 2015 annual budget, about 10 per cent more than the allocation for recurrent expenditure, 75 per cent of the provision for capital allocation and about 65 per cent of the fiscal deficit in the annual national budget for the 2015 fiscal year.

CISLAC also suggested that the Federal Government should empower and the Inter-ministerial Task Team (MTT) in order to effectively carry out its mandate, adding that it might also be necessary to review the NETI Act 2007 to strengthen sanction mechanisms which are presently weak.

The Centre further called for the empowerment of the NEITI Board or some other independent Bodies to enforce more stringent sanctions on erring stakeholders outside of the usually politicized and sluggish Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.

“We recall that one of the President’s promises during the campaigns was to implement the recommendations from the NEITI reports and believe that the time to start is now. We are aware that lack of political will is what has long hindered the ability of the IMTT and the Board of the NEITI to implement these recommendations, block leakages and recover unremitted funds”, CISLAC said in a statement signed by its Executive Director, Auwal Ibrahim Musa.

Continuing the Centre said: “We urge the Federal Government to expedite action on the recovery of all the monies due to the coffers of the Nigerian people and channel them into people oriented development as a way of ushering in the change that citizens voted for and in fulfillment of campaign promises to the teeming population of highly expectant Nigeria and demonstrate the commitment to address the cancer of corruption that has undermined our collective desire for development and good life for our citizens”.


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