CSOs condemn secrecy around extractive industries’ contracts




By Michael Eboh

Coalition of Civil Society Organisations, under the aegis of Contract Transparency Network, CONTRANET, yesterday, condemned the secrecy surrounding contracts in the extractive industries, declaring that it negates the tenets of transparency and accountability.

In a communiqué issued after a meeting for the validation of the advocacy strategy for the adoption and implementation of contract transparency in the extractive industry in Nigeria, the coalition argued that contract transparency is compatible with the anti-corruption thrust of the present administration and constitutes a major way to consolidate anti-corruption efforts in the extractive sector.

According to CONTRANET, the current practice in which contracts entered into by government are negotiated and held in secrecy negates the globally accepted practice of transparency and accountability and predisposes the sector to corruption, unfavourable contracts and revenue loss to the nation.

The group noted that the practice of keeping contracts secret between companies and an exclusive group of government officials breeds suspicion and distrust between government and citizens as to whose interest the contracts were signed.

The group argued that such scandals and potential loss to the nation as exemplified by the ongoing legal tussle in relation to Gas Supply Purchasing Agreement, GSPA, between Nigeria and Process and Industrial Developments, P&ID, could have been avoided if contract transparency was adopted as a policy

“The concerns that making extractive contracts open to the public is inimical to the commercial interest and competitive edge of companies is no longer sustainable as the practice is now common in several other parts of the world.

“Contracts do not have to be couched in technical jargons compiled in bulky documents to make then seemingly incomprehensible by members of the public,” they maintained.

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To this end, CONTRANET recommended that the Federal Government should commence multi-stakeholder consultations on how to proceed with the implementation of contract transparency in the extractive sector in accordance with all her international commitments.

They also called on the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, the Nigerian national Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and Mining Cadastre Office, respectively, should collaborate with the NEITI and other stakeholders, including civil society, to develop and adopt a framework for the implementation of contract transparency in the extractive sector in Nigeria.

The group urged all civil society organisations to continue to engage the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minster of Justice through the Open Government Partnership Secretariat to commence the review of the necessary legislative and policy frameworks that will make the implementation of contract transparency in the extractive sector a reality in Nigeria

They also commended the NNPC for signing on to EITI as a supporting company and called on the corporation to champion the implementation of contract transparency in the extractive value chain according to EITI standards.

“This will complement the success recorded by the launch of an online register of beneficial owners of mining asset and ensure that Nigeria retains the satisfactory progress status achieved in 2019 as the first Anglophone country to do so,” the group stated.

The CSOs, under the aegis of CONTRANET that signed the communiqué included: Centre for Transparency Advocacy, Publish What You Pay Nigeria, Order Paper Advocacy Initiative; Policy Alert; Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC; Global Rights and Koyenum Immallah Foundation.

Others are African Network Environment and Economic Justice; Sustainable Environment & Peace Initiative; Community Outreach For Development and welfare Advocacy, CODWA; Institutional and Sustainable Development Foundation; Initiative for participation Accountability and Inclusive Development; Association of Niger Delta Host Community Leaders; and Global Awareness for Development initiative.

The rest are Coolfm/Wazobiafm; Youth Forum on EITI; Citizens Centre for Integrated Development and Social Rights, CCIDESOR; Women in Extractive; Responsible Citizenship and Human Development Initiative, ReCHDI; and Save a Soul Foundation Zamfara.

Vanguard

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