Keynote speaker at the conference , Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, Former Vice President of the World Bank, Africa Region said “Transparency is an antidote to bad behavior in the extractive industries. The National assembly needs to be the most significant partner with NEITI“. Speaking further, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Extractive Industries Initiative, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, represented by Team Lead, Out Reach, NEITI, Mrs. Obiageli Onuorah remarked that “NEITI Report uncovered $9.8 billion discrepancies in 10 years. $2.6 billion has been recovered so far”. The need for citizens to therefore demand accountability was laid bare following these two speeches.
As seen in the maiden edition last year, best practice and challenges in these industries were reviewed with the aim of proffering viable solutions. Discussions were carried out in two panels. Panel discussions addressed the following topics “Innovative steps in Policy Formation, Implementation and Regulation within Industries” and “Pioneering transparency and accountability through sustainability reporting” amongst others.
In what could be termed a lively interactive debate, stakeholders bared their minds. According to Mr. Legborsi Saro Pyagbara, President, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) “The monies expended by oil companies does not translate to impact on the ground. Communities must be elevated to the status of equal partners in sustainability discussions”. Dr. Dayo Ayoade, Senior Lecturer Energy Law, University of Lagos said “Beyond putting up reports such as NEITI’s, what was is the next step?”
Mr. Emeka Ene, Chairman, Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN) stated that ” the importance of building trust with indigenous communities cannot be overemphasised”.
Dr Uwem Ite of Shell Nigeria opined that “Sustainable development is not about one group but about partnerships amongst different stakeholder”. According to Jeffrey Corey, COO, Seven Energy “Nigeria has so much natural gas which is not being used. Natural gas needs to be developed sustainably”. Deji Haastrup, Manager, Public and Government Affairs, Chevron Nigeria said “In Nigeria, there is a gap between resource availability and the realisation of its potential. We need to recognise that there is no country that can develop without energy”.
To bridge the gap and to provide a platform for dialogue across all diverse stakeholders, Chude Jideonwo, Board Member, Oando Foundation went on to stress that “We need an engaged and informed citizenry because we have a generational problem. Empower people to demand sustainability” For Mr. Joseph Gitari, Senior Programme Officer, Ford Foundation ” We have all seen how Oil and Gas industry rent mismanagement can go wrong. People need to realize that first and foremost, it is the responsibility of their governments to provide basic infrastructure and not wholly the charge of the Multinational Corporations in the industry.”
This year’s conference provided a fresh outlook in terms of innovation and stimulating debates; through a series of social media platforms and collectively involved interactions including the youth, media, regulators and experienced veterans within the extractive industries.
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