By Etuka Sunday
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has called for a stronger and deeper partnership with the media in its advocacy to ensure prudent management of Nigeria’s natural resources.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji made the call during courtesy visits to media houses in Lagos. The visits took the NEITI Chief Executive to the Chairman of Channels Media group, Dr. John Momoh and the Managing Directors of Arise News and Thisday Newspapers, Ms Ijeoma Nwogwugwu and Mr Eniola Bello respectively in Lagos.
“I am in Lagos to thank my colleagues in the media for their support and solidarity on my appointment and to seek collaboration and partnership. I regret that I am unable to visit all but only a few as a result of time and the Lagos traffic but will do so in the near future”, Dr. Orji appealed.
Dr. Orji stated that the success of his job requires a lot of media collaboration in the use of data and information generated by NEITI to build knowledge and understanding, mobilise public support for a more transparent and accountable extractive industries.
According to him, “I am here to seek your support in the discharge of NEITI mandate especially in the dissemination of our reports”.
The transparency boss explained that NEITI exists to galvanise change in Nigeria’s natural resource management by making the findings and recommendations contained in its reports public, enlighten the people, and ultimately uplift their standard of living.
The Head, Communications and Advocacy, NEITI, Obiageli Onuorah in a statement said, he commended the media chiefs for the quality of their programmes, experience and professionalism of their staff.
“Your media are very independent, analytical and insightful on issues. That is why we seek this relationship to enable us link our reports to visible impacts. I commend the young men and women you have given the opportunity to advance in the industry”. Dr Orji added that “I am very honoured and proud of the industry and veterans like you that have made the media to remain relevant in Nigeria’s socio-economic existence. You have also created a lot of opportunities for the younger generation. Your legacies cannot be quantified”.
“Sometimes, out of curiosity I call some of them to ask where there were trained, because I never knew them while I was in the industry. Look at the kind of capacity and professionalism they have brought to bear in their work. I am truly impressed”, he stated.
NEITI’s Executive Secretary appealed to the media executives to expand and equip their energy desks to enable them analyse sensitive and technical information associated with extractive operations.
The Chairman of Channels Media Group, Dr John Momoh, Managing Directors of Arise News Media and Thisday Newspaper, Ijeoma Nwogwugwu and Eniola Bello pledged their support to the implementation of the EITI process in Nigeria by creating new programmes on natural resources and sustainability while expanding and equipping the already existing ones.
While congratulating Dr. Orji on his appointment, they tasked NEITI to pay special attention to the mining sector, enforce sanctions against infractions and support in building the capacity of their staff to understand the mechanics of the extractive industries.
Chairman of Channels Media pledged to put at NEITI’s disposal its digital space with over 44million followers. According to him, “It is a matter of national interest. We are interested in knowing how much money is being spent and what is happening in Nigeria’s extractive industries. We will work with you. Just let us know what we can do”.
The advocacy visits open new chapters in NEITI’s relationship with the media and forms part of Dr. Orji’s efforts at re-building trust and confidence towards the NEITI process.
The visit to media houses in Lagos by the NEITI Executive Secretary, planned in phases is expected to cover other leading media organisations in future.