NEITI, CSOs insist on contract transparency in PIB

By John Ofikhenua, Abuja

The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), which include Centre For Transparency Advocacy (CTA) and Facility for Oil Sector Transparency and Reform (FOSTER) has called on stakeholders in the oil and gas industry to insist on the retention of the contract transparency clause in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

In his goodwill message at the Media Round Table on Contract Transparency, which CTA organized in collaboration with the MITEI and CONTRANET, NEITI’s Communication and Advocacy Officer, Mr. Kazeem Lameed, urged the stakeholders to set their eyes on the clause in the bill.

He said there is no excuse for parties not to disclose their contracts except those who have something to hide.

According to him, “section 83 subsection 3 and 5 of the PIB speak directly to the issues of contract transparency in the oil and gas sector of Nigeria.

NNPC Contracts shall not be confidential and contracts shall be published on the website of the (commission) within one year after the effective date.”

He also noted that the clause makes provision for mandatory oil revenue savings and systemic disclosure.

The FOSTER’s representative, Mr. Leo Ugboaja had in his presentation titled “research of findings”, disclosed that there is presently no law in Nigeria that makes contract disclosure mandatory.

He said “There has been no law that mandates contract transparency in the country at the moment except in the PIB which is in the National Assembly.”

He charged the CSOs that since it is now part of the PIB in the National Assembly, to ensure that local contractors that have been operating without a legislature do not succeed in expunging it from the PIB.

Ugboaja hinged his call on contract transparency on the fact that “we Nigerians don’t know what the contracts contain,” noting that a simple mistake could cause the county a fortune.

He disclosed that service contracts are more important. Service contract, according to him, is what determines amount of revenue that the nation earns from the industry not the license contracts.

Earlier, the CDA Executive Director, Faith Nwadishi told the CSOs that the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) a global body, which Nigeria is signatory to, makes contract transparency mandatory in the oil and gas industry.

She said the contracts include agreements and license, recalling that the Nigeria last year scaled through the issue of beneficial ownership requirement in the industry.

On PIB, she said “The PIB has been going on for twenty years. Because it is captured there, this is now where we will begin to work in the EITI. The PIB gives us the opportunity for Nigeria to meet the requirement of the EITI. If the PIB now makes it mandatory, we have a law that has taken it up much higher.”

Nwadishi concurred with FOSTER that local contractors could push for thwarting efforts at passing the contract transparency clause alongside the PIB.

Her words: “We have to look out for local contractors, people who don’t have that standard of contract transparency who will want to do a push back. They want to do business as usual. This is when we will amplify our voices so that members the National Assembly will look for that provision.”

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