Orji Promises to Consolidate on Predecessors’ Giant Strides at NEITI
By Peter Uzoho
The Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, has pledged to continue and consolidate the great achievements recorded by his predecessors in order to give Nigeria and Nigerians the deserved value from the nation’s extractive sector.
Orji was recently appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari as the executive secretary of the nation’s transparency agency after the expiration of the five-year tenure of Mr. Waziri Adio.
The NEITI new henchman, who was until his new appointment, the agency’s director of communication, said part of his agenda was to expand the frontiers of his predecessor’s good works, while bringing his personal ingenuity and creativity to bear in the course of steering the ship of the agency.
Orji stated this yesterday when he paid THISDAY and ARISE NEWS Channel a courtesy visit in Lagos where he thanked the management of the two sister media outfits for their continuous support to NEITI and particularly, for their celebration of his appointment as the executive secretary of the agency.
Accompanied by some of his top management team, Orji was received by the Managing Director of THISDAY Newspapers, Mr. Eniola Bello; the Managing Director of ARISE NEWS Channel, Ms Ijeoma Nwogwugwu; and the Group Business Editor of THISDAY, Mr. Obinna Chima.
He said: “For NEITI that I work with, I told my colleagues that my own is continuity and consolidation. Continuity on the good job that has been done by Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, current Minister of Finance and Waziri Adio, our immediate past Executive Secretary, and expanding the frontiers of their achievements from where they have stopped.
“I have the capacity to continue, I ‘m one of the institutional memories of the organisation. And then, somewhere along the line, my own perspective, my own ingenuity and initiatives will also have to come to play.
“I think it’s so fair that when predecessors have laboured to put something in line, the minimum you can do is to build on it and then if there are lapses, you don’t waste time to begin to castigate, you take that time to fix it. That’s why you are appointed. So, I will fix whatever may have been the lapses in the past and then we take it up from there.”
He said one major clear issue that he and his team needed to tackle immediately at NEITI was to link their reports to visible impacts that Nigerians could see.
Orji listed the PIB that is currently under consideration for passage at the National Assembly, saying the bill was the brainchild of NEITI as it emanated from its report.
He noted that the agency had recommended in its first report that there was need to have a new petroleum law for the country as the exiting one had been there since 1958
“NEITI recommended that there should be a law to define the way forward and governance structure for the Nigerian oil and gas industry. We have been on it for 18 years now.
“NEITI will like to use this opportunity to thank the National Assembly for the job so far done and thank the President for re-introducing the bill as an executive bill. But we want to see that bill passed into law because what that bill can do to the industry is unimaginable in terms of unbundling the opportunities in the industry”, Orji said.
He said the passage of the PIB was being hampered by many divergent interests including the government, operators, host communities, and the civil society, adding that the harmonisation of those interests will pave the way for the speedy passage of the bill.
He, however, assured that from information at his disposal coupled with his engagement with the lawmakers, the PIB would be passed before the end of the year.
Orji also said the agency under his leadership would equally be working for the expansion of Nigeria’s opportunities in contracts transparency, beneficial ownership, mainstreaming as well as expanding implementation to gender equity in the Nigeria oil and gas industry.
According to him, the industry is currently dominated by men, saying that was a “huge generational disequity in terms of revenues, in terms of poverty eradication, in terms of empowerment for men, women and children.
He announced that Nigeria has been elected to chair the Global Initiative for Contracts Transparency, which is made up of about 16 countries that are nominated as pilot out of 54 member countries of the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
The NEITI boss said Nigeria has over $11.6 billion that are recoverable, informing that the agency was currently working with some agencies of government to work out modalities for the recovery of those revenues.
Orji, however, thanked THISDAY and ARISE NEWS Channels for always supporting NEITI, saying the essence of his visit was to thank them for their overwhelming celebration and reportage of his appointment.
He specially commended THISDAY and ARISE NEWS Channel for their phenomenal performance and for the towering position they occupy in the national and global media landscape.
Orji said: “Arise is doing a great job. Your Morning Show is national and global…and your choice of panel, your choice of issues of discourse are all most exciting and very engaging that sometimes it keeps chief executives late from going to work.
“And your news segments are also timely and very professional, and I’m very proud that these are Nigerians that are doing those works.
“For THISDAY, THISDAY has held the print media for more than a decade, unblemished, and there has not been any very clear rival that I can see in terms of timeliness of the issues, their kind of headlines and insider information that they provide professionally.”
Responding, Nwogwugwu encouraged Orji to ensure that NEITI gives more focus to the solid minerals sector in their reports.