By Etuka Sunday
The Inter Ministerial Task Team set up by the Federal Government to ensure prompt implementation of findings and recommendations contained in the industry audit reports of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) is to be re-invigorated with the Accountant General of the federation Ahmed Idris as Chairman.
The Accountant General, Mr Ahmed Idris at a visit to NEITI Secretariat to agree on modalities and the framework for the new IMTT with the NEITI Executive Secretary, Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji stated that “The Inter – Ministerial Task Team (IMTT) will now be resuscitated, it will come back to life and will continue to discharge the very objectives for which the government set up that Committee to achieve. The result will begin to come very soon”.
According to the Accountant General, “This is part of the collaboration. We are always supportive of what NEITI is doing and they are equally collaborating with us. We will put hands together to make sure that whatever is due to government by way of revenue, royalty, fines and so on, do come to government. We are supportive hundred percent of what NEITI is doing and we will assist them to achieve their objectives”, Mr Idris noted.
He explained that NEITI was working in the areas of curbing corruption and plugging leakages, we are equally doing that. “We are here essentially to strengthen our partnership and collaboration because we have a common goal. I feel it is important to visit them to strengthen our relationship. This is essentially the purpose of my visit”, Mr Idris noted.
The Accountant General stated that “The visit shows the importance we attached to the great work NEITI is doing in terms of looking into revenues from extractive industries that is supposed to come to government and ensuring that such revenues duly come as at when due and they are fully accounted for”.
He stated “We have a lot in common because as a treasury, we also have an oversight function on revenues coming to government not just the federal government but to the entire federation and that is also what NEITI is doing”.
Welcoming Mr Idris to his office, the NEITI Executive Secretary, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji described the Accountant Generals’ visit as most encouraging considering efforts at revitalizing the IMTT.
“We want to work with all agencies that either take custody of government funds, warehouse or manage them because most of this funds come from the extractive industries and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation is the nation’s treasury house and the Accountant General of the Federation has enormous responsibilities in that regards”, he said.
Dr. Orji explained that “I am very much encouraged by the massive reforms that the Accountant General’s Office has carried out in terms of payment systems that have been automated. This has reduced very significantly issues of corruption. That is why NEITI finds the Office of the Accountant General a very useful partner”.
“When we look at NEITI’s industry reports we are encouraged by the responsiveness of the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to NEITI remedial issues. That is also the reason perhaps why the Federal Executive Council (FEC) found the office worthy to Chair the Inter Ministerial Task Team which the Accountant General of the Federation has come here to discuss the modalities for reinvigorating that team. That Task Team to us means everything”, Dr Orji emphasized.
The Head, Communications and Advocacy, NEITI, Obiageli Onuorah in a statement quoted the NEITI boss to have regretted that in the last five years, the IMTT has not been very active but pointed out that with the Accountant General of the Federation working with NEITI, that Committee will be resuscitated and will help to reduce to the barest minimum the chances of NEITI quarreling with sister agencies on the pages of newspapers.
“This is because from inception the concept of the IMTT by government was to ensure inter – agency discussion and dialogue on NEITI remedial issues with a view to resolving them. It was quite impactful in the past and that is why we are going back to that task team with the support and collaboration with the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation”, the NEITI Chief added.
The specific tasks of the IMTT is to among other things, develop a revenue flow interface among government agencies; improve Nigeria’s oil and gas metering infrastructure and develop a uniform approach to cost determination. Others include, building human and physical capacities of critical government agencies and improve overall governance of the oil and gas sector.
The Inter Ministerial Task Team (IMTT) is an old initiative of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) set up to implement recommendations on remedial issues in the NEITI industry Reports.
In another development, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) is to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU).
The MoU is to define modalities for deepening the engagement with the NFIU in the areas of information and data sharing in financial corruption in the extractive industries.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, explained that these measures are designed to ensure that those who take compliance to NEITI processes for granted will have themselves to blame for the consequences.
The MoU will also define parameters for strengthening the technical working group earlier established by the two agencies. NFIU will also collaborate with NEITI on training and manpower development.