EITI Standard Is Achievable If We Are Determined: Usman Muttaka

Mr. Muhammad Usman Muttaka, a PhD and senior lecture at Economics Department, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria affirms that EITI standard framework can be achieved in Nigeria if the citizens and the state are determined. In this interview with Mr. Audu Liberty Oseni, editor Extracting Accountability, he speaks on what needs to be done for Nigeria to achieve EITI standard. Extract:

Q: Can Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) standard framework achieve accountability in the Nigeria’s extractive sector?

A: EITI standard is a universal standard that has best practice; however, there are other institutional frameworks as well as mechanisms Nigeria needs to put in place so she can achieve the EITI standard.

In Nigeria, because there are institutional weaknesses, there are difficulties and challenges confronting EITI achievement. But, going by the standard, if the people are determined, the standard can be achieved.

Q: what is the role of academia in demand side accountability in the extractive sector?

A: the essence of academia globally is to search for the truth and propagate the truth. Our emphasis is to ask questions about transparency and accountability. As a member of the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU), we have instituted certain mechanisms on how to ask question about revenues, not only on the extractive.

We participate in the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), we ask question about how the funds collected are utilized, we undertake field visit to verify expenditure claims. We are also involved in the content development to know how much is collected.

It is instructive to say, ASUU engagement with NEITI has a long history and therefore our basis of disseminating information to the people that are part of our mandate also helps to push the frontier in terms of accountability and transparency in the sector

Q: what do you think will improve revenue generation and utilization in solid minerals?

A: there must be a deliberate effort on disclosure in terms of who is mining what, what is been paid, and how what is been paid is utilized at the local, state and federal levels.

There must be transparent in beneficial ownership, who owns the companies must be unmasked. Most of the companies operate under proxy and that must not be allowed to continue.

Community engagement is necessary, while researchers should be able to show the economic impact analysis of mining.

Q: Does Nigeria have the local manpower to undertake her natural resource exploration?

A: it is not only in oil and gas that we have serious manpower deficit but in all sectors of Nigeria economy. If you do manpower need analysis of the entire sector you will be amazed in the kind of capacity gap you will find.

When you look at the oil and gas sector, it is capital intensive and requires professionals. The training of a single petroleum engineer, how much does it cost, how much do we have, how many universities can produce such manpower?

As the moment, we cannot say we are there now, there are lots of things to be done to understand the knowledge gap and the resources required to address it.

Presently, we don’t know what the oil and gas require, the first thing is to know how much do we require, how many engineers we require, how many universities produce those engineers, how many polytechnics bring technicians.

When we know that, we will be able to do the analysis of what we have and determine what we require. Yes we have some experts, but, are they up to the requirement of the sector.

Q: Do you see Nigeria shifting from Africa rising narrative and begin real investment in the extractive sector?

A: there is deficiency in the market knowledge, it is important to understand that extractive industry doesn’t normally drive growth, it complements growth. The real sector (agriculture, production and manufacturing) are the drivers of growth in the most economics in the world.

For us to achieve growth in Africa, we have to identify our growth strength, what do we have and how do we achieve the process.

It is important for Africa to define its course, in the last 20-30 years, Africa has been driven by institutions that are not African base and are there to protect the interest of other economies.

Except Africans think Africa and put together Africa context of growth we will not be there any time soon.