Stakeholders at public presentation of a policy brief on the Extractive Sector harp on citizens engagement in governance
A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria has harped on the need for the citizens to get involved in the country’s governance, especially in the extractive industry.
This call was made at the public presentation of a policy brief on ‘Mainstreaming Fiscal Responsibility into the Petroleum Extractive Sector,’ undertaken by OrderPaper Nigeria.
Executive Director of Orderpaper Nigeria, Oke Epia,
in his remarks, noted that the Growth Initiative For Transparency (GIFT) Nigeria Project which has been decided for implementation is one that relates to catalysing transparency and accountability in governance.
According to him, the GIFT Nigeria Project being implemented in Nigeria focuses on three key areas including a clamour for the passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) 2007, as well as the promotion of remittances and citizen mobilisation in governance.
He also explained that provisions of the proposed FRA Amendment contain very vital reforms that will enrich public finance management space as well as improve revenue remittances and collection from the petroleum industry.
Epia further noted that loopholes in the extractive industry necessitated the study on required key business areas, disclosing that two business studies have been undertaken for this project and one of them is the reason for organising the event.
The GIFT project is set out to find out fiscal responsiveness in that sector. Why do we have as provided by the PIA, certain very strong protective measures that impune fiscal responsibility in the sector?
The second advocacy around it is how to improve the revenue remittances from the petroleum sector especially, and the third is citizens engagement.
Citizens are provided the opportunity to report whether projects are properly done in their various communities,” he said.
He also mentioned that the focus of the event is to see how relevant reforms can be pushed in the extractive industry while noting that due process was followed in the conduct of the research.
In a goodwill message, the Chairman of the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) represented by Fatima Abubakar commended Orderpaper for its collaboration with other partners to come up with laudable research to show the commission how to mainstream the sector.
He explained that the main difference between the old and new Petroleum Industry Act is the addition of mainstreaming, accountability, transparency, and efficiency into the operations in the oil industry to enable Nigeria get the benefit as a country.
The commission’s Chairman who was excited about the event described awareness as very important, especially with the beginning of the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).
He stressed that if the usual practice in the sector is allowed to continue, then the essence of the new Act will be a waste.
The FRC added that the event is in tandem with its mandate to show how things can be done better and how the authorities and the citizens can hold the sector accountable for ensuring that things are done the right way.
He advised that the country should begin to expand its revenue base as well as the improvement of taxes.
On his part, the representative of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Chris Echeonu pledged support for the successful implementation of the GIFT projects.
Henry Adigun, while reviewing the policy brief called on citizens and stakeholders to engage the political parties candidates in the general elections on issue-based discussions if the country must move forward.