The Chairman of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG), Mr. Ledum Mitee, has stated that the poor implementation of the previous audit reports of the agency had led to the recent controversy over the alleged non-remittance of $49billion into the Federation Account.
Mitee told THISDAY on the sidelines of a recent NEITI workshop in Lagos that the whole controversy between the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) would not have been arisen if the previous audit reports of NEITI had been taken more seriously.
â€œMy view is that the whole statutory responsibility of reconciling all these payments and receipts is what NEITIâ€™s work is all about. It is NEITIâ€™s statutory responsibility to do those reconciliations and that is what we have been doing in our reports. My view is that this controversy that you see would have been unnecessary had institutions and officials taken NEITIâ€™s work more seriously than they have been doing. We have been churning out these reports, which I think give credible reports of all these receipts and payments,â€ he said.
Mitee said one expected outcome of the current controversy was that people should now realise that there was a statutory body that could solve all these problems.
He said NEIT was not out to witch-hunt anybody or â€œto say let us just catch the thief, but NEITI gives credible data on some of these issues.”
â€œIf all our recommendations had been addressed, we will not get to where we are. So, I think that for us to get to a situation where today we are talking about $10 billion, tomorrow $20 billion, next day $45 billion; I mean quite for me, it is unnecessary. We should take opportunities of avenues that are available,â€ he added.
Mitee had told participants at the workshop that marked the commencement of NEITI comprehensive audit of the oil and gas sector for the year 2012 that the poor implementation of its independent audit reports in the oil and gas sector was the greatest challenge that confronted prudent management of extractive sector revenue.
The NEITI Chairman gave assurance that the ongoing audit is critical to providing reliable information and data required for the proposed massive reforms.
He said the workshop that commenced the current audit circle was coming at a critical time in the nationâ€™s political development when issues of transparency and accountability were attracting increasing attention.
According to him, it is also important in two other important respects.
â€œFirst, it is the first audit that could be conducted under the new set of EITI requirement and standards that was approved by the global body in May, 2013.
Thus for instance, the current audit would contain information of beneficial ownership amongst other issues. Secondly, it is coming at a time in our national history that the Nation is embroiled in a very unfortunate allegation of non-remittance of oil revenues to the federation account,â€ he added.