Owners of oil companies to be made public -NEITI

Omolola Fadile Bello, Abuja

NEITI Executive Secretary, Waziri Adio

The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Inititiative (NEITI) says all beneficial owners of companies that bid for, operate and invest in the extractive Industries must be made public.

The Executive Secretary of the Commission Mr. Waziri Adio disclosed stated this at a consultative meeting for the Development of Roadmap on Beneficial Ownership in Abuja Nigeria’s capital.

According to him,” section 2.5 of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) standard states that there should be a public accessible register of the beneficial owners of all companies that bid for, operate and invest in extractive assets of the EITI implementing countries and by January 2017, a roadmap must be put in place in these countries on how to fully implement beneficial ownership disclosure in the extractive sector by 2020.”

Mr. Adio said “there would be need for new regulations, policies, and legislation that would ensure transparency and accountability in the sector.”

He added that “ownership transparency when pursued effectively would attract investors to a predictable business environment not rigged of favours from those in governments or other concerned citizens”.

“Nigeria through NEITI has some experience in capturing beneficial owners in our audit reports on the extractive sector, specifically our 2012, and 2013 reports. We did this as part of an EITI pilot beneficial ownership disclosure,” he added.

Mr. Adio “said the participatory approach chosen for developing this roadmap is a pointer to what we want to do more of. We want to consult more, collaborate more and engage more.”

On his part, the Minister of Solid Minerals Dr. Kayode Fayemi who is also the chairman, National Stakeholders Working group commended NEITI for the workshop.

According to him, “anonymous ownership is typically embedded in, and often facilitated by, layers of ownership traversing several jurisdictions. This phenomenon was clearly demonstrated by the Panama papers where a trove of documents holding secret records of over two hundred thousand offshore  companies was uncovered, leaked to the public by the media.

The ultimate goal of the workshop is to exercise a publicly accessible
register of beneficial owners of companies operating in our extractive
sector in place by 2020. “

Dr. Fayemi believes that ” it is important to underscore that the principle of ownership.  Transparency in the extractive sector is consistent with the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to open, transparent and accountable management of the Nigeria’s resources.”

Disclosing the real owners of companies operating in the extractive sector in Nigeria is expected to expand the frontiers of transparency and accountability and yield other benefits to the country.