Benin City…..The British government on the 31st of October, 2013 at the open government partnership committed to implement by 2015 an European law that will make UK-listed and UK-registered oil, gas, mining and logging firms declare the payments that they make to governments worldwide.

The EU legislation, passed by the European Parliament in June, echoes tough legislation passed in the United States last year, which subsequently led to a successful court challenge brought by the American Petroleum Institute (API), the industry body for the U.S. oil and natural gas industry.

The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) a leading civil society organisation advocating for transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector welcomes the announcement, which in our view is part of efforts to end poverty in resource-rich nations and would ensure that wealth is shared.

“We welcome the EU extractive transparency law as a welcome development that will not only bring about transparency in the extractive industry but also give people clear information about what London-listed extractive companies pay to foreign governments whether in the form of taxes, royalties, licenses and other payments,” says ANEEJ Executive Director, Rev. David Ugolor.

The ANEEJ helmsman noted that “while we applaud the British Government EU extractive transparency law which is aimed at bringing transparency to bear on the extractive industry, we call on the Nigeria Government to match words with action by taking a cue from the British Government by institutionalizing transparency in the oil and gas sector by giving the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) currently before the national assembly an expedited passage into law.”

According to Ugolor, “the stated objectives of the PIB are to enhance exploration and exploitation of petroleum resources in Nigeria and to promote petroleum production for the benefit of all Nigerians; significantly increase domestic gas supplies for power generation and industrial development; create a peaceful business environment for petroleum operations; establish a progressive fiscal framework that encourages further investment in the petroleum industry whilst increasing accruable revenues to the Federal Government of Nigeria; create a commercially viable National Oil Company; deregulate petroleum product prices; create efficient regulatory entities; create transparency; promote Nigerian Content; and protect health, safety and the environment”.

“We therefore call on all UK-listed and UK-registered oil, gas, mining and logging firms operating in Nigeria to ensure that they fully comply with the legislation and ensure that all revenued accruing to the Nigeria are not only paid to our government but also openly declared.” Ugolor said

The EU Extractive Transparency Law means poor communities – often exploited by their own governments and unscrupulous businesses – will know what is paid and be able to ask the right questions of their MPs and officials about how that money is spent. It is a real result for them that should make a difference to the lives of many people who lack basic services. This is exactly what the PIB stands to guarantee oil producing communities, if passed into law.