NEITI’s New Executive Secretary Calls for Continuity and Consolidation Amongst CSOs

On Thursday, 11 March 2021, the Executive Secretary of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, flagged off his tenure with an introductory meeting with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), including CSR-in-Action, showing his bent towards inclusiveness. The meeting which held virtually in adherence to the COVID-19 protocols, was organised to enable stakeholders interact with the new Executive Secretary in order to discuss their expectations and share their feedback. The event was attended by a high level of representation of CSOs across the nation.

In his address, he thanked and acknowledged the support of individuals and organisations working together over the years to attain the current success of NEITI. He also remarked that the meeting was to get the civil societies opinion on issues as diverse perspective the way it should be, and behind those divergent views are unity and spirit which means “injury for one, injury at one is injury for all”, as he emphasised the need for more civil society organisations, particularly those willing to push for the change that is required.

He expressed the plan for his tenure to be hinged on the dual strategy of Continuity and Consolidation between NEITI and civil society organisations and enjoined all participants to speak freely while he listened and took notes which he hoped would help forge a collective pilot into the tenure.

Faith Nwadishi, Board Member at Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and former board member of NEITI also applauded the new executive secretary on bringing experience onboard his position by creating a platform of dialogue and consultation amongst key players in the civil society.

The Chief Executive of CSR-in-Action, Ms Bekeme Masade-Olowola, in her congratulatory address to Dr Ogbonnaya, expressed her delight upon reception of the news of his appointment, while thanking him for his continuous support towards the cause of CSR-in-Action over the years. Masade-Olowola tasked the agency to focus on the broader extra-financial sustainability approach and to drive transparency in the opaque extractive industries. She also called for gender inclusiveness and expressed how gender representation is still a major challenge in the industries, expressing how CSR-in-Action’s work with Ford Foundation on gender bias and violence against women has further exposed the gaps, not only in communities, but also within the oil and gas firms.

Other remarkable comments by participants include Newton Otsemaye, a consultant and representative of the British Council who urged the Executive Secretary to focus on NEITI’s knowledge management system and trends learning. He also noted remedial actions that civil societies are agitating for as well as the role of the government and NEITI to addressing these issues.

Dr Ogbonnaya in his closing remarks thanked every participant of the event, including Hon Engr Janet Adeyemi, who called for more inclusive community engagement, and noted that this is an era that we have all worked for, during which he promised to do his best to sustain the momentum.