Nigeria needs new ideas and innovative approaches to address operational inefficiencies in its extractive industry and unleash its potential, the Director-General of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Abubakar Sulaiman, has said.
Mr Sulaiman, who was a former Minister of National Planning, said the country’s approach to managing its petroleum and mineral resources has not substantially improved over the years, because of the operational inefficiencies, opaqueness, and corruption in the system.
He made the observations on Wednesday at the virtual validation session of a toolkit developed for the National Assembly. The event was organised by NILDS in partnership with the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC).
Mr Sulaiman said as non-renewable resources decline in many parts of the world and global demand grows, African countries, including Nigeria, can potentially earn increasingly high profits from the sector.
“Oil and gas, and increasingly, solid minerals which make up the extractive industries in Nigeria, occupy preeminent positions in the Nigerian economy – primary economy depends mostly on natural resources for nearly all of its government revenue,” he said.
He said that if properly managed, revenues from the export of oil and mineral resources could help alleviate poverty and spur economic growth and social development in Nigeria.
According to its promoters, the “NILDS Toolkit for The Nigerian Parliament to Support Engagement with The Extractive Industry” provides templates for conducting an independent analysis of laws, sectors, and issues within the natural resource space.
The toolkit is a standalone tool developed to assist parliamentary committees with oversight, representation, and law-making responsibilities for the governance of the extractive industries.
It will guide lawmakers to understand the nature of the extractive industries, the key actors in the sector, including the international oil companies (IOC) and state-owned companies, and the value chains in the extractive industries.
NILDS said while the toolkit was designed to enable legislators, including new ones, to understand how to engage the industries.
In his keynote message, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, represented by the Chairman House Committee on Petroleum Resources(Upstream), Bassey Akpan, said lawmakers, policy-makers, and even activists are hamstrung in their efforts to evaluate, analyse and oversee issues related to the extractive industries because of the complicated nature and opacity of the industries.
“As a result, the lack of technical knowledge limits their ability to engage on these complex issues and creates a psychological barrier that often discourages effective oversight. This Toolkit can significantly bridge this knowledge gap as it provides legislators with a basic primer on the extractive industries in Nigeria and details avenues for legislative intervention”, he said.
Nigerian Natural Resource Charter
The toolkit principally draws from the Natural Resource Charter (NRC) that reflects global ‘best practices’ of parliamentary oversight of the extractive industries, including what parliaments can do together with the executive, civil society, communities and the extractive companies (private and public) for the promotion of the public good, Mr Lawan said.