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Buhari Tasks NEITI’s New Board On Accountability

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President Muhammadu Buhari has charged the new board of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) to ensure that the agency continues in its quest for transparent and accountable management of Nigeria’s natural resource revenues.
Buhari, who gave the charge, yesterday, at the inauguration of NEITI’s newly constituted 15-member National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG), in Abuja, reaffirmed the Federal Government’s ‘irrevocable’ commitment to the implementation of the principles, objectives, and standards of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), in Nigeria’s oil, gas and mining sectors.
A statement by the agency’s Head, Communications and Advocacy, Obiageli Onuorah, said the President who was represented at the ceremony by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, commended NEITI for its work in enthroning transparency in the extractive sector.
He noted that, “the extractive industry is very strategic to Nigeria’s economy and hence central to the administration’s economic agenda. Secondly, transparency and accountability in the management of our national resources is equally central to the anti-corruption agenda of this government. Nigeria is, therefore, irrevocably committed to the implementation of EITI in the oil, gas, and mining industries”.
He added, “Our faith in the EITI process is not just because it is key to these two key government agendas, but also because, over the years, NEITI has demonstrated a high degree of competence, integrity, and commitment to the values that the country requires to achieve economic growth and development in the sector through the availability of reliable information and data required for national planning and reforms. It has also supported phenomenal revenue growth in the sector through meticulous application of EITI principles”.
He urged the board to ensure that NEITI continues to preserve these virtues for the benefit of all Nigerians and for future generations, stressing that the new board must preserve the noble virtues for which NEITI is known and be non-partisan as NEITI is non-political and has maintained dignified neutrality all through almost two decades of its existence.
“NEITI is not just a local agency of government, but part of an international organization. Hence it must be seen to comply with the principles of the international EITI. Your mandate as the Board of this organization is to ensure effective EITI implementation in Nigeria by providing policy and strategic direction, guidance, monitoring, and oversight to the EITI process in Nigeria”, he noted.
In his response, the Chairman of the new board, Mr. Olusegun Adeyemi Adekunle, a renowned public administrator and immediate past Federal Permanent Secretary, General Services in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, thanked the President for the confidence reposed on them and opportunity to serve.
He assured the President that the new board under his watch will push the boundaries of transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s extractive industries.
Adekunle committed to implementing fully the principles of the global EITI and strengthening the ongoing reforms in Nigeria’s extractive sector.
On his part, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, who is also a member and serves as secretary to the board, applauded the timely decision of the Federal Government to reconstitute the NEITI Board.
“The NSWG is central to the work of NEITI. The constitution of this board will enable NEITI reassume its leading position among the global EITI implementing countries”.
Other members of the 15-Man NEITI Board include the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Mines and Steel Development representing Government Extractive Industries, Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), representing Extractive Industries Revenue and Accountability, while the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will be representing the National Oil and Gas Company.
The board also has a representative of the International Oil Companies (IOCs).
The civil society organisations have Mr. Peter Egbule, representing them while the Presidents of Nigeria Mining and Geosciences Society and Petroleum (NMGS), and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) are representing Extractive Industries Professional Unions on the board.
There are also six zonal representatives on the board.
They are; Dr Bashir Bature Gafai (an oil and gas accountant) for the North-West; Dr Iliya Gashinbaki (accountant) representing the North-East; Dr Godwin Akor Ogwuche, North-Central; Mr Nze Joe Ibeh, South-East; while the South-South and South-West are represented by Awowo Christian; and Prof Damilola Olawuyi; respectively.
This is the 5th governing board to be appointed for NEITI.
By the NEITI Act 2007, the chairman and members have four-year tenure and are on a part-time basis, while the executive secretary has five-year tenure, and is on full-time appointment.

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Minister Blames Judiciary For Prisons’ Congestion

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The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the congestion in Nigeria’s correctional facilities on the country’s Judiciary, explaining that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOS) was not allowed by law to reject inmates sentenced to correctional centres or to release them.
Aregbesola, represented by Special Adviser on Nigerian Correctional Service, Suleiman Tala, stated this while delivering a paper at a policy advocacy conference entitled, “Decongestion of Correctional Centres: Status Quo”, organised as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Order of The Knights of St Mulumba, Nigeria, Lagos Metropolitan Council, which was held in Lagos, adding that the primary responsibility of NCOS is to hold offenders pending the adjudication of their cases before a law court.
“It is important for the public to be aware that the NCOS and the Ministry of Interior are trying their best to tackle the issue from different angles as the length of time the inmates stay at the custodian centre is not determined by NCOS but by the justice system. I may not be able to reiterate exactly what the challenges are with the judiciary, however, as it affects the NCOS we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCOS,” he stated.
Representing the Inspector General of Police, Baba Usman, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, accepted that the police contribute to the congestion but gave his reasons.
“Inconsistence of the appearance of police officers to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolonging trial but the IGP has mandated officers must attend court cases as at when due. The police are being hampered by a high level of distrust between the citizens and their police institution,” he stated.
Also at the conference, Lagos State Catholic Archbishop, Alfred Adewale Martins, who was represented by Rev. Paschal Uwaezeapu, stated that decongestion of the prisons would continue to be a matter as long as the government has refused to fix the country.
“The prison would continue to be congested if we don’t fix the society. As long as our society is a place where everybody takes for himself without considering the neighbour then our prison would continue to be congested. If we need to fix the prison we need to fix the family. These prisoners come from a family. We need to fix the education system also. We need to promote justice, without all these, the prison will soon overflow,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, KSM William Adebisi, urged the government to declare a state of emergency on the congestion of prisons.
“The government needs to take the matter seriously as it affects the health of the inmates, economy of the company and behavioural change of the inmates,” he stated.

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FG Seeks $3bn With Eurobond Offer

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The Federal Government has announced plans for a Eurobond issuance in the International Capital Market (ICM) to raise $3billion.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) said, yesterday, that Virtual meetings with investors have been scheduled for today, and September 20, 2021.
It said, “In order to avail local investors the opportunity to invest in the Eurobonds, meetings will also be held with local investors.
“This is the first time local investors will be included in the Roadshows, and this is one of the reasons why a Nigerian Bookrunner (Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd) was appointed as one of the Transaction Advisers.
“Through the Eurobond issuance, Nigeria is expected to raise up to $3billion but no more than $6.2billion.”
According to the DMO, the issuance for which all statutory approvals have been received, would be to implement the New External Borrowing in the 2021 Appropriation Act and that “Proceeds are for the financing of various projects in the Act.”
The agency gave further insight, saying, “In addition to providing funding to part-finance the deficit in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria benefits the country in many other strategic ways; amongst which are: 1. It is an inflow of foreign exchange, leading to an increase in External Reserves.
“External Reserves help support the Naira Exchange Rate, and Nigeria’s sovereign rating.
“When Nigeria raises funds externally, through Eurobonds, it frees up space in the domestic market for private sector and sub-national borrowers. In effect, it helps the sovereign not to crowd out other borrowers in the domestic market.
“The issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria has opened up opportunities for Nigeria’s corporate sector notably banks, to issue Eurobonds to raise capital in the ICM.
“By so doing, their capital base has been strengthened to provide banking services whilst also meeting regulatory requirements. Nigeria has a sovereign yield curve in the ICM, extending up to 30 years.
“The local listing of Nigeria’s Eurobonds on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. and the FMDQ Securities Exchange Ltd., have increased the range of products on these two (2) exchanges and their respective market capitalization.
“Overall, Eurobond issuances by Nigeria and the investor meetings that precede the pricing have provided a strong global platform for Nigeria to tell its own story and opportunities available in Nigeria for investors.”
The Transaction Advisers appointed by Nigeria for the issuance were: International Bookrunners – JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited; Joint Lead Managers -Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs; Nigerian Bookrunner – Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd; Financial Adviser – FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd; while White & Case LLP, was appointed International Legal Adviser; and Banwo&Ighodalo would serve as Nigerian Legal Adviser.
The last time Nigeria accessed the ICM was November 2018.

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Insecurity: Put Nigeria First, FG Tells Media

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The Federal Government has tasked the media to put Nigeria first in the reportage of the country’s activities, particularly the fight against insecurity.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja during the ceremony of the renaming of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Headquarters Building after the former Managing Director and Board Chairman of NAN, late Wada Maida.
Mohammed said it may seem obvious and trite, but for any professional, including a journalist in Nigeria to be able to carry out his or her responsibility at all, the nation must first exist, in peace.
“In other words, if the country goes down, all professionals and everybody go down. It is that stark, and this is why I want to use this platform to appeal to our media to put Nigeria first”, Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the minister said if one picked up most newspapers, watched most television stations or listened to most radio stations in the country, one will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war.
While acknowledging that there were challenges in the country, especially in the area of security, Mohammed, however, said the Buhari administration had not only acknowledged the challenges, it is earnestly tackling the challenges.
“A good example is the decisive manner in which our gallant troops are tackling the banditry in the North-West or the way they are combating the terrorists in the North-East. Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South. Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face. This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic.
“To illustrate the damage this non-acknowledgement of the efforts of the security agencies pose to the country, let me tell you what transpired when I recently hosted some members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) UK Chapter, who visited me in my office here in Abuja. They said some of their colleagues who would have come to Nigeria for their programme tagged,‘A Week in and For Nigeria’ during the month of July, did not come out of fear of the security situation in Nigeria. However, those who made the trip said they travelled to their hometowns across the country and returned to Abuja safely. If Nigerians in the diaspora can be afraid to come to their country, imagine how foreigners, including investors and tourists, will feel about coming to the country.
“Whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media.
“Even when some media organisations report fake news, they never have the decency to retract such stories and apologise. They simply move on as if nothing has happened.
“We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face. All we are saying is: Be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges. Even if you don’t want to encourage the men and women in uniform fighting to keep us safe, please don’t discourage them with negative reporting. The security challenges we face today will be successfully tackled and Nigeria will not cease to exist, despite the antics of naysayers”, Mohammed added.
Mohammed congratulated the family, friends and associates of the late Maida for the great and much-deserved honour done to him.
He commended the management and staff of the NAN for coming up with the idea to immortalise the late Maida.
“The Federal Government’s decision to approve the proposal was not difficult, upon realising the role played by Alhaji Wada in making NAN the respectable agency that it is today. A man who was everything from Zonal Editor to Foreign Correspondent to Editor-in-Chief to Managing Director to Board Chairman, a man who built this glistening NAN headquarters edifice deserves to be immortalised by the organisation he served so well in his lifetime”, Mohammed stated.
Mohammed prayed that God will continue to comfort and strengthen the family of Maida, even as he prayed that the soul of the departed continues to rest in peace.

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