Nigeria and all other countries implementing Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) are now under obligation to make public terms of contracts entered into in the oil and gas, and solid minerals sectors.
Under the 2019 EITI Standard, implementing countries are required to disclose any contracts and licenses that are granted, entered into or amended after January 1, 2021.
Countries are also required to document government’s policy on the disclosure of contracts and licenses that govern the exploration and exploitation of oil, gas and minerals.
EITI explained on its website that when countries commit to contract transparency, “they accept to publicly disclose the full text of any contract, license, concession or other agreement governing the exploitation of oil, gas and minerals”.
Director, Communication and Advocacy, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji said said in an interview that plans are already in place to meet the new requirement.
Dr. Orji explained that from Jan. 1 2021, contracts entered into by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Department of Petroleum Resources, the Mining Cadastre Office (MCO) and other relevant government agencies would be made public.
According to him, “from the position of NEITI Nigeria is set to comply with the new approach to public disclosure. We have developed implementation plan in compliance with the deadline given by the global EITI which Nigeria is a signatory.
“We have a draft implementation plan on Contract Transparency that is ready. That Contract Transparency implementation plan was developed with the support of development partners and multi-stakeholders. We have had series of workshops with stakeholders to validate this implementation plan.
“By this, we mean that we want the stakeholders, the covered entities to understand the content of the plan and how this plan will affect their operations going forward because from next year (2021) we expect that NNPC contracts will be published as soon as they are made and the content of those contracts will be made public through the NNPC website.
“On the part of DPR, we expect that such contracts will also be made public and that is what NEITI is pushing. We also expect that the Mining Cadastral Office will do the same for the mining sector and then we will take down to all of the relevant covered entities.”
He, however, noted that the “content and approach of how these contracts information will be disclosed are still subject to what we are discussing with the various covered entities in order not to jeopardize their operations or to allow information that may not be required or information that is key to the heart of the operation of the agencies in the hands of wrong people”.
Faith Nwadishi, a former board member of global EITI and Executive Director, Women in Extractives, said the Federal Government is expected to establish a portal where people can easily access contracts that have been given out from Jan. 1.
Nwadishi pointed that it is expected that contents of contracts awarded as a result of the 2020 marginal fields bid round would be made public through the portal.
“We are expecting that from this January, we will see the contracts that will eventually be signed by those people who the fields will be given out to. We expect that the Federal Government will come out to make a very strong commitment on Contract Transparency”, she added.