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90% of Nigerians clueless about oil industry operations, say experts


Oil rig

Industry experts have revealed that 90 per cent of Nigerians are ignorant about the operations of the oil and gas industry owing to lack of transparency in the sector.

This revelation was made in Lagos, during the launch of the 2017 oil and gas Benchmarking Exercise Report (BER), by the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC).

One of the Charter’s Expert Advisory Panel member, Ronke Onadeko, noted that a good amount of Nigerians don’t understand the value chain of the oil industry, and hence can’t question the authorities.

She said Nigerians must understand that the resources belonged to all, and therefore the non-charlatan attitude must stop. “Other countries have built on much less than Nigeria has, and it is evident our leaders are not doing enough.”

The BER was benchmarked on 12 precepts, which include strategy, legal framework and institutions, transparency and accountability, exploration, licensing and monitoring operations, taxation and other company payments, local impact, state-owned enterprises, investing for growth, stabilising expenditure, public spending, private sector development, role of extractive companies, and role of international community respectively.

The report noted that although there have been improvement in the sector since 2014, after the last report, but the industry can still be described as opaque due to transparency and accountability issues.

The report highlighted that 10 out of the 12 precepts have recorded slight improvement, moving from red marks to yellow, but precepts five and six, which are local impacts and state owned enterprises respectively, have since 2014 remained on red with no significant improvement.

The report further noted that for precept five to record positive change, there must be an effective feedback mechanism in the host communities, because as per the NRC benchmark, policies to ensure meaningful participation by the affected communities are absent.

For precept six, the report said though the partial passing of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) by the Senate is in the right direction, but commercial decisions and operational activities within the NNPC are still subject to political interference.

Precept two, which dwells on transparency and accountability, noted that public institutions in the oil and gas sector are yet to prioritise proactive disclosure of information, and yet to meet internationally accepted standards.

“Cases of corruption are still rampant in the Petroleum sector, and investigations by oversight institutions have not resulted in any convictions,” the report maintained.

The NNRC Programme Coordinator, Tengi George-lkoli, also urged the government to focus on transparency and accountability in the oil and gas industry come 2019, because it is the only way to attract investment to be at par with other economies.

“To fix corruption in the sector, transparency and accountability must be the watch word,” she added.

Commenting on how realistic the research precepts were was Team Lead, Facility for Oil Sector Transportation, Ademola Adigun, who explained that the perceptions people have about the industry are very different from the facts on ground, because more realistic than theory, the 12 Precepts are representation of happenings in the industry.

Against this backdrop, Onadeko therefore urged Nigerian to take advantage of the coming election year to ask questions, and demand for their rights.

In this article:
NNRCRonke Onadeko
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