Welcome Address by ANEEJ Executive Director, Rev. David Ugolor during the Roundtable on Oil Industry Reforms Held at Denis Hotel, Abuja, on Wednesday September 14, 2016
I will like to first of all welcome all of you to this roundtable on oil and gas sector reform in Nigeria. I am delighted that you are able to honour our invitation despite the holiday and Muslim festivity which ended yesterday. This meeting presents a wonderful opportunity for us all to strategize on how to engage the ongoing reform of the oil and gas sector in Nigeria as articulated by the present administration and considering also the challenges which has bedeviled the sector over the years.
Just to mention that, in August, 2015, ANEEJ organized a similar roundtable on Bern Declaration report to give opportunity for stakeholders to jointly review the report and agree on concrete steps to take in support of Federal Government’s resolve to rid Nigeria’s oil and gas sector of corruption and reposition the NNPC for greater efficiency and productivity. During the roundtable, it was agreed that a CSO Task Force be set up to engage the on-going oil and gas reforms in the country to bring an end to the massive fraud that have characterised the sector. The task force has since met and drew up an action plan on the engagement process.
Today, we are going to consider and discuss some of the ongoing and other emerging issues in the sector especially when you consider the commitments made by the present administration at London Anti-corruption Summit. We are happy that the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) is currently championing an aspect of that commitment which deals with the issue of beneficial ownership and that is why we particularly invited NEITI to this roundtable to give an update on the concept and how CSOs can contribute to actualizing the idea. We are also interested in how to take the issues usually generated by NEITI audit reports forward. At this point, we like to commend the NEITI current leadership for also taken a proactive steps through the publication of Policy Brief which strongly underline the importance of Beneficial Ownership disclosure in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria.
We are aware that the attempt by successive administration to pull through with the PIB has been unsuccessful and even this current administration has equally started to do something about the bill but no significant progress has been made. We will discuss the current situation and agree on how CSOs can contribute to moving the process forward to avoid the mistakes of the past.
We have also been following up on the oil swap contracts in Nigeria and have previously undertake specific activities to encourage the Nigerian government to put an end to oil swap and undertake direct sales and direct purchase of crude, because the entire process has not been handled transparently as Nigerians do not have idea of what such contracts entails. Perhaps, where the necessary information on the processes are made available to the public and the necessary explanations provided, we may not totally condemn the process after all. That was why we made effort to invite official of NNPC and Ministry of Petroleum Resources to this roundtable to provide us with such details that will give us a better understanding of the entire process.
These are some of the issues we shall be looking at briefly during this roundtable and I hope we will be able to discuss frankly and come up with clear positions on the true situation and what we can do to move the reform process forward.
Rev. David Ugolor
ANEEJ Executive Director