The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has says it has commenced moves to expose the real owners and beneficiaries of oil and gas blocks, as well as mining firms in the country.
NEITI said in a statement in Abuja that the initiatives, which are contained in two documents the roadmap on beneficial ownership disclosure, and open data policy, were designed to push the boundaries of its mandate to ensure transparency and accountability in business activities within Nigeria’s extractive industries.
According to the statement, the roadmap on beneficial ownership disclosure would outline strategies to be adopted by Nigeria in the implementation and fulfillment of ‘requirement 2.5’ of the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) standard, which among other things, has demanded for public disclosures of the real owners of oil, gas and mining companies that operate in Nigeria.
The agency explained that the institutional frameworks required for effective implementation of ownership transparency, clarity on definition of beneficial owners and explanation on thresholds for public disclosure required in the process, have been identified.
NEITI stated that people who fall into the category of politically exposed persons (PEPs) and the reporting obligations expected of them as well as the challenges that may be encountered during the process of data collection, data quality assurance, accessibility and timeliness, have also been identified in the document.
Considering the complexities of the extractive industries in Nigeria, the plan also identified all the stakeholders expected to be involved in the implementation of the beneficial ownership requirement.
NEITI stated that the EITI standards have mandated all implementing countries, including Nigeria to publish their beneficial ownership roadmap by January 2017 and then commence full implementation by January 2020.
It said that the process adopted by it in the development of the roadmap was consultative, robust and consistent with the multi-stakeholders approach of the NEITI.
For the open data policy, NEITI said it was in compliance with the EITI standards and the global shift towards open data availability in the wake of technological advancement and increasing demand for transparency and accountability by Nigerian citizens.
It explained that under the open data policy, information and data contained in its industry audits would be made publicly available and accessible in a reusable format.
“The open data policy also requires that the data be used anywhere and for any purpose without restrictions from copyright, patent or other control mechanism and must also be expressly excluded by the provisions of the laws of Nigeria.
“This requires making the data convenient, modifiable in open format, easily retrievable, indexed, and well organised. The open data policy also represents the framework for the implementation of the global drive for use of open data to pursue reforms, enthrone transparency and accountability especially in the extractive sector of the Nigerian economy,” said NEITI.