The Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Dr Ogbonnaya Orji, has called for investment in the country’s solid minerals sector to increase its economic potential.
Orji made the appeal on Monday while delivering his remarks at the launch of the NEITI 2022-2026 Strategic Plan in Abuja.
He expressed the displeasure of the agency that the solid minerals sector contributes what he described as a little over 1.8 percent to Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP), saying it is “an enormous sector that can grow the economy more than oil”.
According to the NEITI, with the Federal Government throwing the sector open for investment, it has the potential to contribute over 60 percent to the nation’s GDP.
“At 60% to Nigeria’s GDP would mean outperforming oil,” he said. “This is our target. We have done an extensive scoping study and seen the potential of the solid minerals sector.”
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The initiative’s boss added that six strategic minerals had been identified for focus, adding that the agency’s next major focus would be on the development of the strategic minerals.
“So far, NEITI has conducted and published eleven (11) cycles of audits in the solid minerals sector, spanning the years 2007 – 2020,” he said.
“From the NEITI reports, a total of N624.1 billion was recorded as revenue that has accrued to the government from the sector over a 13 year period which in today’s exchange rate amounts to about $1.4B compared to the enormous $394B earned in the oil and gas sector in just 10 years. This shows negligence to the enormous potentials in the solid minerals sector.”
See the full speech below:
WELCOME REMARKS BY THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY OF THE NIGERIA EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE (NEITI) AT THE LAUNCH OF NEITI 2022-2016 STRATEGIC PLAN BY THE SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNEMNT OF THE FEDERATION AT THE NEITI HOUSE ON THE 15TH MAY 2023
On behalf of the Board, Management and staff of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), I welcome the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) to the NEITI House.
2. The NEITI House is a legacy that the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration is bequeathing to NEITI. While we thank President Muhammadu Buhari for this very wonderful legacy, we will like to place it on record that this could not have been possible without the guidance and the leadership of the SGF who is seated here in our midst, whom we report to directly, who actually takes our message to the President.
3. I recalled that in my first week on assumption of office as the Executive Secretary on February 19th, 2021, my team and I identified that lack of office accomodation was the major problem confronting NEITI which has made it impossible for us to think, develop and function adequately.
4. I held a meeting with you the SGF Sir and you took it upon yourself as a personal and official task to help and guide us secure a befitting office accommodation.
5. Sir, we do not have time in this forum to narrate exactly all the efforts you made to bring this project to fruition.
6. But I recall our first attendance at the Federal Executive Council meeting. I sat at that meeting and watched the way you took up our memo and owned it, presented it with passion, conviction and commitment.
7. When that memo did not scale through because we were asked to go and ensure that the property we had in mind was registered, am aware that you also facilitated the process of registration with the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory and went beyond that to also instruct that NEITI should be placed as a priority in the Cabinet Office to present that memo as soon as we are ready with the appropriate documentations.
8. These are the steps you took in spite of your very challenging and very complex and busy schedule and I can also recall that you gave us every opportunity to ensure that this project came to fruition. All encumbrances and challenges on the way were promptly reported to you and you resolved them leading to the fact that we are here today.
9. We have invited you as we hardly see you visiting agencies because your support to this project was quiet profound.
10. Sir, on behalf of the staff, management, chairman and members of our Board present here and the general public, we want to convey to you our sincere appreciation. We equally want to use you to convey to President Muhammadu Buhari our appreciation on his investment in NEITI.
11. This administration will go down in history as the administration that have invested and supported our agency.
12. Sir, we are aware that your tenure and the tenure of this administration is winding down, we want you to consider this as one of the legacies of this administration. Our initial plan was to invite Mr. President to come and commission this project but we know that getting Mr. President and the timing will be more complex. You being here today is to us a very suitable representative of Mr. President. Please convey to him our best wishes and appreciation.
13. Now that we have gotten a place of work and a good environment, we want to use the remaining period of my tenure as the Executive Secretary and the Board’s tenure to focus more comprehensively on the content and the details of our work that will impact directly the lives of Nigerians. And that is making sure that the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Nigeria delivers impactful results and energizes more reforms in the oil, gas, and mining sectors.
14. Specifically Sir, the five-year strategic plan that you are about to launch today is specific on the direction and strategy we need to adopt in the pursuance of this objectives.
15. The five-year strategic plan has three major strategic objectives, as follows:
16. Enhance extractive sector governance reforms through policy research, strategic stakeholder engagement, communication and inter-agency collaboration.
17. Maintain extractive reporting and relevance by prioritizing national and international priorities.
18. Achieve operational excellence in implementing the NEITI mandate through professionalism, innovation, use of technology, resource management and capacity building.
19. Under these strategic objectives our focus will be on the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) which, if well implemented comprehensively, will address the challenges within the oil and gas sector.
20. On that note, we are grateful to you as well for making sure that NEITI was included in the Petroleum Industry Act Implementation Steering Committee (PIASTERCO).
21. NEITI is however not too delighted that the work of that Committee appeared not to be concluded and fully submitted to the government.
22. As the Chairman of the Transition Council, NEITI is requesting that you please make a special case for the PIA implementation committee to be allowed to continue its work leveraging on institutional memory to conclude its work and hand over a comprehensive report to the next administration.
23. As a member of PIASTEERCO, our chairman, the Hon Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timpriye Silva has resigned and since then, the Committee has not held any meeting. We do not want the enormous work already done by the Committee to go down without implementation.
24. NEITI will take it as a responsibility to ensure that working with the civil society, the media and the companies, that the PIA Implementation Committee and its report is implemented.
25. Then the second area that we will also talk about is that we are very displeased that the solid minerals sector currently contributes a little over 1.8% to Nigeria’s GDP. This is an enormous sector that can grow the economy more than oil.
26. Our projection is that if the solid mineral sector is thrown open for investment, that it has the potential to contribute over 60% to the nation’s GDP. At 60% to Nigeria’s GDP would mean outperforming oil. This is our target. We have done an extensive scoping study and seen the potential of the solid minerals sector.
27. We have already identified 6 strategic minerals for focus- Gold, . NEITI’s next major focus would be on the development of these strategic minerals.
28. So far, NEITI has conducted and published eleven (11) cycles of audits in the solid minerals sector, spanning the years 2007 – 2020.
29. From the NEITI reports, a total of N624.1 billion was recorded as revenue that has accrued to the government from the sector over a 13 year period which in today’s exchange rate amounts to about $1.4B compared to the enormous $394B earned in the oil and gas sector in just 10 years. This shows negligence to the enormous potentials in the solid minerals sector.
30. NEITI in line with its mandate encourages disclosures of payments accrued to government in other to build trust among the stakeholders and promote transparency and accountability in the management of solid minerals resources.
31. We are happy that the Federal Executive Council, of which you are a member is already developing a draft bill that will amend the 2007 Mineral Act and liberalise the solid minerals sector for inflow of investment.
32. There is a deadlock between the Federal and States over who actually should collect what taxes.
33. We hope that NEITI would be availed of the draft document to make an informed position as we did in the Petroleum Industry Bill.
34. NEITI will be moving fully into the solid mineral sector to draw the same attention we drew to the oil and gas sector, drive reforms and ensure that revenues from the sector are prudently deployed for the growth and development of our country.
35. Apart from the acquisition of the NEITI House, we have made other tremendous achievements in recent years. These include:
36. The development of the 2022-2026 Strategic plan which you are launching today as earlier mentioned.
37. NEITI also identified the need to strengthen our capacity by developing the manpower plan which led to the injection of young skilled Nigerians into our workforce.
38. You will recall that by the time I took over, the National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG) also known as the Board was not in place, we brought this to your attention and you immediately helped us to put the board in place.
39. We have also concluded work on the NEITI Automation Management System (NAMS). Currently, NAMS is being deployed in the conduct of our industry reports.
40. Furthermore, our reports incentivized the National Assembly to set up a public hearing where recoveries were made to the tune of N1.5 Trillion ($3.8Billion) into government coffers with over N1.07 Trillion (US$2.67 Billion) still outstanding. The 2021 industry report will be released in June and by then we will update you on the companies’ compliant status.
41. Our alarm has also put companies on their toes in making sure that they pay to government what they ought to as at when due.
42. While the debate on issues of subsidy ensued, we released a policy brief conveying our stand on the issues of subsidy removal. We are commissioning a survey on the actual consumption of Petrol Motor Spirit (PMS) in Nigeria because as at today, no one is quite sure.
43. NEITI will also like to conduct further study on 13% Derivation to ascertain whether the benefiting states are getting what they are really supposed to get and the extent of utilisation.
44. We would also be focusing on ensuring that Nigeria’s global obligations to the EITI are maintained and sustained.
45. We are currently among the leading implementing countries but we are not very happy when issues of corruption and transparency are mentioned globally, Nigeria is on the back seat. This is a challenging situation for NEITI and all anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria.
46. NEITI is assuring the government that under our new strategic plan, a lot more vigour, a lot more intellect, a lot more innovation, competence and integrity would be brought to bear in the fight against corruption, hoping and trusting that we would have allies like you in the incoming administration.
47. On that note we would like to thank you for coming and like to request that you please ensure that as you leave government you will continue to be an ally of NEITI anywhere that you may find yourself. For us, we would continue to look up to you and continue to wish you well.
48. Thank you for coming and I wish us all a successful launch.