NNRC Poised to Provide Guidance for Improved Oil and Gas Sector Management in Nigeria

The Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC) is poised to provide the necessary guidance to help both the government and people of Nigeria effectively harness the opportunities in the oil and gas sector for the betterment of the people. As part of ongoing interactions with government officials, industry practitioners, and other stakeholders, the NNRC is working hard to ensure that the 12 Precepts are adopted as yardstick to inform and improve natural resource management in the country. This will definitely help to ensure opportunities provided by new discoveries and commodity booms will never again be missed. To this end the NNRC has been actively engaged in advocacy across the country to get policy makers, legislatures, civil society organisations, the media and community leaders to buy into its 12 Precepts developed for effective guidance and management of natural resource wealth.Moreover, the government, industry operators, and the general public are equally enjoined to avail themselves of the information in the NNRC Benchmarking Report exercises which is in its third edition this year. The Benchmarking Report is unarguably the most informative and in-depth reference material on the oil and gas sector in Nigeria. The first edition was in 2012, second one was in 2014 while the third is this year.Speaking on some of the activities of the NNRC, Chairman of the Experts Advisory Panel (EAP) of the NNRC, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia noted that “one way the ordinary people can benefit from the nation’s oil wealth is to strengthen good governance and transparency particularly around financial and natural resource management. This is well-documented in the 12 precepts (particularly precepts 1, 2, 5, 7 and 11) of the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter”.Mr. Ajumogobia equally urged the federal government to take concrete steps towards the environmental remediation of Ogoniland and other communities affected by oil and gas mining. While admitting that compared to what obtained in the past, there seem to be hope on this, he however cautioned that “without implementation of remediation efforts, one cannot really speak of satisfaction. Levels of pollution have not been reduced in any noticeable way and there has been zero remediation so far”.On the role organisations like the NNRC are playing, he opined that if “we, as a country, are to develop and scale up the solutions required to deal with the intensifying changes and new pressures surrounding the exploration and utilization of our natural resources for the benefit of all Nigerians, creating a stronger enabling environment for leading civil society organisations to thrive and deliver impact must become a greater priority on the natural resources agenda”. In his own submission, The Co-Chair, Experts Advisory Panel of the NNRC, Prof. Assisi Asobie highlighted that the Precepts constitute a framework for assessing the performance of a country in the management of oil and gas. The first according to him is to determine whether the oil extracted is managed to the benefit of the greatest number of people, economic and social. “What that really means is, when you decide to take the oil from the ground, and sell and make money, you should calculate the net benefits. It is not just how much you are getting from it; it is how much you are getting minus how much it is costing you, including environmental costs. It is not compulsory that you must extract. There may be occasions when you would say, “Now, I don’t want to extract”.The second, he said, is about transparency and accountability while another deals with the private sector. “There is also a precept about the way the oil money is being managed, and also about the quality of spending and so on. So, that’s what the NNRC does”. Continuing, Prof. Asobie noted that if Nigeria implemented all the precepts perfectly, Nigeria and Nigerians will benefit from oil extraction. As it is, Nigerians aren’t also benefitting because the assumption of the precept was that we will be selling the oil raw; the assumption is that you will get oil from the ground and sell it as a raw material for others to buy, refine and benefit, he added. He warned that those who buy the crude benefit far higher than those who own it. “It is assumed that we will remain producers of oil, rather than people who developed industrial chemical complexes. So, I am saying that implementing it to the full will not in the long-term benefit a country. You must, therefore, revise it in such a way that you encourage them to actually keep much of it within the country and use it for industrialisation”.He however pointed out that government’s inability to adopt the benchmark to assess its performance is a sticking point which should be addressed because therein are the opportunities to use the natural resource wealth to the benefit of the people.

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