Later this week (on December 12 to be precise), the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) will launch a register that will detail the full information of owners of oil and gas companies in the country.
NEITI’s Executive Secretary, Waziri Adio, disclosed this recently during a stakeholders’ meeting on the benefit and significance of the Beneficial Ownership Register in Nigeria.
According to Premium Times, Adio acknowledged the public outcry from certain quarters which has greeted this development. He also allayed people’s fears regarding this, emphasising that this is not a case of “we against them”. He, however, clarified that the initiative is aimed at ensuring that Nigeria is accorded the necessary benefits it is entitled to for the extraction of its resources by extractive companies, some of whom have been “cheating” the country over the years.
What you need to know
Note that the Beneficial Ownership Register is in tandem with the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). With 52 countries signatory to it including Nigeria, EITI specifies a global standard for the good governance of oil, gas and mineral resources.
As Adio claimed, there are a lot of benefits that the NEITI register is expected to actualise. Some of these benefits are highlighted below;
The register will make it possible for there to be a transparent disclosure of the full identities of investors in Nigeria’s extractive industries.
The register will also make it easier for the government to checkmate possible tax evasion by the owners of extractive companies in the country.
According to Adio, the move will also help to curb illicit financial flows and other forms of organised crime such as drug financing and money laundering.
Once again, Adio reiterated that there is no need for anyone to be worried about the launch of this register. It is only aimed at ensuring transparency whilst ensuring that Nigeria is not cheated by players in the extractive industries.
“When people are afraid that the Register is against their interests, it is natural to expect they will resist it. So, NEITI has a responsibility to assure people that they have nothing to fear, except they are engaging in illegalities.”
In the meantime, the NEITI register is lacking a legal backing because there is no piece of legislation in the Nigerian constitution that makes it compulsory for companies to publicly disclose their beneficial owners. But as Adio stated, NEITI is adopting a “gradualist approach” which will enable it to figure out how to navigate any legal issues that may arise along the way.