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Orji: NEITI Not A Law Enforcement Agency, Other Arms of Government Should Act on Oil & Gas Report 

“What we do is to provide empirical information and data in the public domain.”

Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), has said that the relevant government agencies are now equipped to utilize the NEITI report, which is available to the public, for their purposes.

On Monday, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) released its oil and gas report. This report revealed that the government earned over $23 billion in revenue from the sector in 2021, while also pointing out that there was unremitted revenue owed to the federation account.

Furthermore, the report offered an overview of the financial liabilities of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) and several other companies within the industry to the federation.

In an interview with ARISE NEWS on Wednesday, Orji stated that NEITI lacks the authority of a law enforcement agency and does not possess full investigative powers.

“What we do is to provide empirical information and data in the public domain,” he said.

According to Orji, Nigeria’s commitment to the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) standards mandates that once this information is made publicly available, it is the duty of citizens, the media, civil society, and the legislature to thoroughly analyze this data and utilize the resources provided to ensure government and companies are held responsible.

The NEITI report also noted that in 2021, none of the refineries were functioning, despite the fact that approximately N200 billion was invested in refinery refurbishment, funding that was deducted from the federation’s sales proceeds, between 2020 and 2021.

“We have not said anybody has stolen money,” Orji said “NEITI looked at the whole expenditure, looked at the state of the refineries, and we raised an issue that if this kind of money has been spent, why are the refineries not working.

“We made our recommendations, and it is now the responsibility of the government and various other arms to take it up from there.”

He mentioned that this year’s report places a strong emphasis on public transparency, aiming to generate income and create a noticeable influence in how those funds are managed and utilized.

He additionally mentioned their willingness to offer additional information regarding the particulars they’ve already shared if they receive an invitation to do so.

Furthermore, Orji stated that the government’s current focus is on decreasing the debt-to-GDP ratio in order to generate capital and facilitate resource mobilization. This strategy aims to boost revenue, which can then be allocated towards addressing critical national challenges.

He said, “NEITI has a torch. We are pointing to the way where some money can be generated locally.

“Those that are owing should pay. Those that have not remitted should remit.

“Those agencies whose duty it is to take it further from the information we have provided, they are now in the position to use our report.”

Finally, he commended NEITI for consistently sharing information with the public since Nigeria’s participation in this initiative in 2004, and how this has played a pivotal role in bringing about various reforms, such as the unbundling of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Petroleum Industry Act, reforms in Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), amongst others.

Frances Ibiefo