Spaces for Change | S4C hosted the maiden edition of the National Extractives Dialogue (NED 2022) in collaboration with the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI). The two-day event brought together over 170 industry stakeholders in the mining as well as oil and gas industry – policymakers, corporations, regulators, host communities and the civil society from Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal – to assess the (policy, regulatory and institutional) progress that has been made in the subregion to improve contract transparency, benefit sharing, energy transition as well as the inclusion of host communities in these processes. The expert paper presentations, high-level panel discussions, public debates and plenary sessions had over the two days evaluated the performance of the extractive industry and proffered evidence-based policy recommendations for addressing identified gaps in equitable sharing of natural resource benefits in the subregion.
In their welcome addresses, the Executive Director, Spaces for Change, Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri; NEITI’s Executive Secretary, Dr. Ogbonnaya Orji and the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari represented by Mr. Chris Akamairo, Group General Manager, Governance, Risk and Compliance all emphasized the need for a more transparent and accountable extractive industry. Ms. Ohaeri shared some of the steps taken by Spaces for Change to gauge the effectiveness of the mechanisms used by corporations and governments to ensure the benefits of natural resources trickle down to the areas where minerals are extracted from. Dr. Orji reiterated NEITI’s commitment to open contracting in the extractive industry and in keeping open channels of dialogue with the host communities. Chronicling some of the steps NNPC has taken to eliminate opacity in oil and gas industry operations in Nigeria, Mr. Akamairo stated that natural resources can only be beneficial when extracted in a responsible and cost-effective manner.
The high-level opening session focusing on Contract Transparency, Transfer of Natural Resource Benefits to Citizens and Transition to a Green Economy: Past,Present and the Future kicked off with a presentation by NEITI’s Dr. Ogbonnaya Orji. The presentation detailed Nigeria’s efforts to meet the requirements of the EITI Global Standards. Extractive governance reforms that have taken place include the passage of the Petroleum Indstry Act, the Solid Minerals Development Roadmap, initiation of the share of 13% solid minerals derivation fund (9Billion Naira) and the revovery of over 3Billion Dollars owed the country by extractive corporations. When the details of a contract are not made public, performance and implementation-tracking become impossible. The panel discussions focused on the effectiveness and benefits of open contracting, especially for the people living in host communities. Host communities typically bear the brunt of the environmental and social impact of extractive activities. As such, the benefits accruing from natural resources extracted from their communities ought to be shared with them. As a developing continent, building wealth is the cornerstone of Africa’s development and that can only be achieved if investments in extractive projects are executed in a way that benefits all.
The high-level opening panel session moderated by Ms. Ohaeri comprised a broad spectrum of distinguished industry leaders from both the solid minerals and oil gas sectors including leaders of resource-rich comunities. They are: His Royal Highness (HRH) Eze Emmanuel Assor, Odozie Obodo 11 of Assa, Host Community, Ohaji-Egbema, Imo State; Mr Chris Akamairo, Group General Manager, Governance, Risk and Compliance, NNPC; Hon. Kingsley Uju, member of the Federal House of Representatives representing Ohaji Egbema Federal Constituency; Engr Farouk Ahmed of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), Dr. Oluwatoyin Akinlade of the Federal Ministry of Ministry of Mines and Steels Development.
The opening session ended with the unveiling of the Community-Investor Guidelines developed by Spaces for Change to support host communities in engaging meaningfully throughout the lifecycle of an extractive project, from discovery and exploration to planning, construction, operations, and closure. Leaders and representatives of various communities hosting a variety of solid minerals and crude oil deposits were elated to see the guidelines, and particularly welcomed the way the Guidelines clarified the obligations of extractive companies to their host communities as well as the parameters for community engagement. Host community leaders present at the event include His Royal Highness (HRH) Eze Emmanuel Assor, Odozie Obodo 11 of Assa, Host Community, Ohaji-Egbema, Imo State; His Royal Highness (HRH) Eze Martin Nwali of Ameka Community, Ezza South, Ebonyi State; His Royal Highness (HRH) King Suanu TY Baridam, Gbenemene Bua Bangha II, Kasimene Bangha VII of Ogoniland, as well as delegations from Imo, Rivers, Gombe, Bayelsa, Kogi,
Osun, Delta, and Zamfara.
The presentation of S4C’s research report, titled, Natural Resource and Benefit – Sharing Negotiations between Host Communities and Extractive Companies: A Case Study of Assa North and Ohaji South [ANOH] Gas Development Project, laid the foundation for the subsequent panel discussions that followed which delved deeply into topics like Contract Transparency and Benefit-sharing in West Africa: Moving from Reforms to Action; Benefit-sharing Beyond Legalism; Assessing Nigeria’s Readiness to Transit to a Low-carbon Future; Host Communities & Natural Resource Benefits. The research examined the effectiveness of stakeholder engagement practices and benefit-sharing negotiations between ANOH project operators and their host communities. The panel sessions featuring local and international experts afforded participants the opportunity to unpack the concepts of contract transparency, benefit-sharing and energy transition, the disparities between the extant laws governing the extractives industry, the bottlenecks oil-dependent states are facing in the wake of the global clamour for a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy and the implications such transitions would have on the host communities scattered across Nigeria. Despite being endowed with several natural resources that can accelrate the country’s transition into a green economy, certain factors limit Nigeria’s preparedness for a low-carbon future. For instance, limited access to the technology and the education required to harness those natural resources to generate clean energy. This prompted calls for increased investments in education, infrastructural development and diversification of the economy.
NED-2022 aimed to provide a no-holds-barred platform for extractive companies, government/industry regulators and the host communities to share experiences and deliberate on industry best practices that ensure that both extractive companies/investors and communities manage extractive activities in a way that contributes to sustainable growth and development, protects communities and the planet.Feedback from the participants indicate a high appreciation for the platform and the relevance of issues discussed. Responding to the question, “What were the things you liked most about the conference?”, some participants said:
“the conference provided opportunities to hear from government, CSOs and the host
community and the need to begin to harmonize the gaps in the sector”
“the conference enlightened me on what I do not know and the rights of women over extractive
“more awareness was being created about the happenings, rights, privileges and host
community engagement approaches”
“participation and audience selection were broad-based”
“the theme and panel discussions were properly matched”
“the conference organising was on point. The resource persons were highly informed”
“the conference shed light on issues of extractives that bothers my community”
“the conference was very engaging and very easy to relate with”
“lead presenters are subject experts and provided in-depth insight on their various subjects –
informative and educative”