By Kingsley Okoye
Abuja – The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), on Thursday unveiled a data “DashBoard’’ platform to simplify its audit reports to ensure informed knowledge for public debate on transparency and accountability in the nation’s extractive industries.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that NEITI’s dash board platform was developed as part of the implementation of the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) policy on open data.
The dash board was designed to simplify the data in NEITI’s audit reports, create access to user-friendly data in the reports, trend and analysis to ensure that information and data in the reports support citizens’ engagements and public debate.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr Waziri Adio in his opening remarks, said the dashboard highlights the spirit of innovation that the board and management of NEITI was known for.
“We believe in this mantra that you either innovate or you die, we also believe that we need to constantly use our vantage position in public service to expand and to create public value.’’
Adio said that the dashboard was to constantly push the boundaries and expand the frontiers of openness and accountability in the extractive industries.
According to him, the dashboard is designed to avail Nigerians who are owners of the natural resources simplified information on the workings of the sector.
“The extractive sector is the collective property of all Nigerians, as they do not only have the right to know, but to truly own the sector by having details of its operations.
“It is only those who know about it that can engage in the conversation, so our goal with this project is to foster inclusion and ownership by constantly demystifying this sector.’’
Adio said for EITI to archive its purpose of reducing poverty, promoting development and reversing resource cost, there was the need for robust public engagement and debate of the happenings in the sector.
“The change we want in the sector will come only when people intimately engage in the information we are pushing out.
“Through the debate about the best ways to use the resources for the development of the people, some form of pressures can be mounted on people who make decisions to allocate those resources to the benefit of the people.
“So public debate is very critical, but you can’t discuss and debate what you don’t know.
“That will not happen without data that is comprehensible and usable, how do you make the data usable and translate it to Nigeria,” he asked?.
He said the provision of a dashboard by NEITI would show the way for other EITI countries in the world to follow.
He also said presentation of a data dashboard was key, given the significance data in modern society.
“ What we are doing is in line with the new age of data, where data is the new currency of exchange, where data is the tool of domination and liberation and whoever controls the data controls the argument.’’
The NEITI boss said the dash board would be constantly updated to accommodate subsequent NEITI’s reports.
“As we are publishing the audit reports, we are constantly updating it into the site, it is going to be constantly updated as long as we have new reports.
“It is not going to be one-off thing, it is not just oil and gas report that will be there, it will not just be solid minerals that will be there.
“We will also have any other reports that we do that have data, we are going to be putting it on this dash board.
“The next one that we are going to do is the Fiscal Allocation and Statutory Disbursement Audit (FASDU) report.
“We have published a FASDU report covering 2007 to 2011, and that is the report that shows how our revenues are used by some states and by some government agencies that get statutory allocations and that is the report that makes sense to most Nigerians.
“This report tells you how money was spent and you can begin to ask questions to those agencies on how the monies were spent.’’
He urged media practitioners, civil society groups and Nigerians to make use of the dashboard on NEITI’s website to demand for accountability and transparency in the sector.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the ceremony was attended by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and media professionals.