December 2012


The UN Anti-Corruption day (the 9th of December) is approaching!

This day has been set aside by the international community to raise awareness on corruption and on the role of the United Nations Convention on Anti-Corruption (to which Nigeria is signatory) in combating and preventing it. Fighting corruption through transparency and accountability are top priorities for the oil and gas sector here in Nigeria. But improving governance in the natural resource sector is often an elusive task.

The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) is the Nigeria's first foray into international initiatives working to improve revenue management.  It is geared towards achieving transparency in the publication of revenues accrued from the extractive industry. Nigeria’s first three NEITI audit reports were regarded as the ‘gold-standard’ for other countries to follow. Find information about NEITI on this link: http://www.neiti.org.ng/ 

Again, Nigeria is a pioneer with its work as one of the first countries to integrate the Natural Resource Charter which is a global initiative also aimed at transparency and accountability in the natural resource sector. Governing the sector both responsibly and transparently, for the maximum benefit of the people, requires a series of responsible choices along the entire policy decision chain; from the point of making a decision to extract the resource to the management of the revenues accrued from production. The Charter is useful because it gives guidelines on how the activities along the entire value chain of natural resource exploitation should be conducted for the benefit of the citizens. These guidelines are based on best practices gleaned from countries who have been able to positively benefit from their natural resource explotiation. 

The Nigerian Natural Resource Charter complements NEITI’s efforts and achievements in order to make clear the responsible path for exploiting resource
wealth to the benefit of all Nigerians. Whereas NEITI focuses its efforts on matching revenues reported by companies with that received by the government, the NRC looks beyond revenues at the entire natural resource value chain. The 12 Precept design of the NRC allows accountability actors (that means, you!) to assess where Nigeria is today and more clearly make a conscious decision of where it should be going. Find more information about the NRC on this link: http://naturalresourcecharter.org/ 

In early November, the Expert Panel of the NRC met in Lagos. The experts scored the performance of the Nigerian oil and gas sector against the precepts of
 the Charter. Their conclusion was clear. There is a need for a complete overhaul of the system. (See the scoring and presentations made by the experts on this link: http://nigerianrc.org/content/expert-panel-discussion-presentations)

Understanding how corruption is allowed to exist in a system is the first step in fighting corruption! Breaking down how the natural resource sector works into 12 bite sized pieces (the precepts) is a good way to tackle the irregularities in the sector.  It can be best compared to a stethoscope for conducting a health check on the sector. The principles in the Charter would aid better understanding of how the sector can work best. This can be a way to identify where corrupt practices might exist in the sector. It can also be a tool to guide informed questions about the processes in the sector and advocate for change when necessary. 

The next steps towards fighting corruption in this sector (and in Nigeria in general!) lie with us. Accountability and transparency are not far-fetched if we can actively work towards it. The NNRC is a powerful idea whose time has come in Nigeria. Let’s make good use of it! 

 
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