Mr. Kayode Fayemi, the Nigeria’s Minister of Mines and Steel Development, has joined Nigeria’s civil society organizations, and the mining host communities in their demand for the states to have major control over the solid minerals deposit in the state.

At the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), Ondo State fifth annual lecture, Mr. Fayemi asked the Nigerian state to remove mining from the exclusive list to concurrent list. He argued, when this happens, it will create all the necessary mechanisms for the states to play more prominent roles in mining exploration in Nigeria.

One of the key reforms in the extractive sector will be to address the legislation that has constituted an impediment to robust extractive sector development in Nigeria, which has over the years denied the states opportunity to actively participate in the sector.

As we push for extractive sector overhaul, the federating states involvement in the administration of mineral titles becomes most fundamental.  The state bears the brunt impact of resource exploitation, and if not allowed to actively participate will grossly affect growth of the extractive sector.

By November 27, 2017, Mr. Muda Yussuf, the Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce, complementing Mr. Fayemi, appealed to the National Assembly to review the law to allow mining to be removed from exclusive list to concurrent list.

He argued, at the moment, the royalty from mining goes to the Federal Government and if that continues, states will not generate the needed revenue from mining. And, domiciling miming in the concurrent list will give state opportunity for active participation and revenue generation.

Besides addressing the legislation, the federal government is putting in place policies that will address illegal mining. And this it will do through bringing artisans and informal miners under one umbrella.

As the state pushes for legislation that will address the bottleneck in the mining sector, we also ask that the legislation must make provisions for mining revenues accountability. And we consider the accountability aspect the most central.

It is uncommon for Publish What You Pay to delve into elections and politics, and obviously many will be surprised to see us do that.  But, in reality, there is a strong relationship between economics and politics, and the performance of the state economy is dependent on the political foundation of the state.

Nigeria relies on (natural resource) oil and gas for more than 95 percent of her revenues, and these revenues are shared among states to be managed on behalf of the citizens in trust for citizens’ welfare. This means that our economic determinism is dependent on the allocation and utilization of the revenues from oil and gas. And politics becomes a fulcrum where all the process takes place, you now understand why it is inevitable for PWYP to focus on politics and governance which is the sole determinant of how state resources are shared and utilized.

In spite the huge revenues from oil and gas, for us to begin to see development, Nigeria must be a developmental state that acts proactively to transform the economy and the state. And that has to be done within the democratic setting which is the framework within which we operate. Unfortunately, our politics at the moment is too confrontational and there is urgent requirement to find a means of transforming our politics to one that gives consensus to development priorities that could transform our economies and the state.  Our ability to lead the developmental process, direct our affairs, build a strong institution and public sector, create a space for civil society organizations and build the capacity of our citizens to engage governance will be major determinant factors for measuring our readiness for development.

As we push for natural resource accountability which is shaped by our politics and governance, we must remodel our pattern of the political process. It is fundamental to do that because, at the moment, our political parties are not engaging the citizens and they are essentially “periodic vote gathering organizations”. We do not have any democratic structures within which we have debates on the problems facing us and about the choices that needed to be made. Our political parties are not people were driven, their ability to understand what is happening in our society is weak and that translates into weak and unfocused governance. There is no other platform to negotiate our wellbeing and define how our natural resource revenues will be managed for citizens’ benefit other than our current democratic platform.

In a Democracy, when elections are freely contested and participation is all-encompassing and citizens benefit from political liberties, then the government will act in the best interest of its people.  And if election serves to hold government accountable for the consequence of its past deed, then the predictions of voter’s judgment, will compel those in charge of the state affairs to choose policies that will be optimistically evaluated in their favour by citizens in the subsequent elections. In a democracy, voters education and enhancing citizens knowledge is central, because, if they do not have the knowledge and capacity to evaluate the incumbent government, the threat of not being re-elected will not be adequate to persuade the incumbent government to act in the best interest of the people.

As we go into a periodic election, which is an integral part of democracy, it is important to take into consideration the capacity of those that occupy public office which is a reflection of state capacity in itself. And the evaluation of the political leadership must be done by the citizens, which periodic elections present the opportunity for citizens to vote out none-performing government.

However, the current trend where elections are not won on basis of citizens’ evaluation and ballots are cast based on that is worrisome. The rolling wheel of money bags across all pooling boots on Election Day, bargaining and the voters cast their votes in favour of a political party that pays the highest amount is a dangerous trend. This no doubt erodes accountability in governance, it makes a mockery and threatens our democracy.

For instance, in the November 18th, 2017 Anambra state governorship election, election observers expressed concern over vote buying and inducement of voters and security agencies by political parties in order to garner votes. Mr. Clement Nwankwo, Convener of Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, noted this trend in a report.

In Edo state governorship election, the Alliance for Credible Election raised concerns over unprecedented vote buying by major parties and politicians. Mr. Mma Odi, the General Secretary disclosed at the presentation of their election audit report. In these practices, voters and politicians trade votes openly violating the secrecy of ballots system.

This emerging trend in our election must be halted immediately, and we are aware there are electoral laws regulating elections in Nigeria, the question is, what has happened to those laws. If our elections are allowed to be a product of trade “cash-and-carry democracy” we are in a dire problem. This is not only antithetical to democratic tradition but creates a situation where the ruling elites cannot be accountable to the people. To them, it will be all about trading and we cannot ask for accountability that seems to have been bought on Election Day.

The citizens must immediately rise to address this trend, and in doing that, they must ask for the criminalization of the practice. The provisions of the Electoral Act must be immediately activated to punish those found culpable. Our political education must be broadened and intensified, voters must be made to understand their rights and that their votes are the power they have to hold government accountable. They need to know that ballot is like fundamental right that cannot be sold in exchange for money.

In advanced capitalist society, nobody is above the law, the ruling class with the instrumentality of state mechanisms punishes anybody that violates the law no matter your class status. However, in our case, the ruling class circumvents the law with impunity and the masses helping them to achieve such unimaginable recalcitrant. This must stop.

The arguments point at poverty to justify ballots buying, yes we need to fight poverty, we also need to understand some are not poor but are driven by greed, and what this class people need is political education and re-orientation. Addressing the challenge of ballots buying is not dependent on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other relevant agencies alone, but purely dependent on good leadership and citizens capacity to negotiate their future via the instrumentality of the ballots.

Therefore, periodic elections which democracy affords us must be the citizens’ mechanism to compel the ruling class to be accountable. And when this happens, the political elite knows their ability to win an election is dependent on the citizens’ evaluation of their past performance and not based on who spends the highest amount of monies on ballot buying on Election Day.

The citizens must realize, if the political class were to be accountable and utilizes the monies for their welfare, there will be no monies to buy ballots on Election Day.  And, the people will vote according to their evaluation of the party performance. And when that happens, accountability is guaranteed. Thus, as we ride on our democracy journey, the citizens must choose their leaders based on capacity and not the outcome of ballot buying.

It is important to note that in Nigeria, the focus on vote buying seems to be narrowed down to what happens on the Election Day, but that is not correct.  Vote buying happens throughout the electoral cycle, voter registration, party candidate nomination, electioneering and Election Day. In virtually all the party primaries in Nigeria, the person that wins the party ticket is the one that gives the highest amount of money to the delegates in exchange for their votes. Once nominated as party delegate primaries in Nigeria, you can be sure of making millions in few days.

For instance, at the All Progressive Congress (APC) presidential primaries that took place at Lagos  in preparation for the 2015 elections, delegates who participated in the election were alleged to have made US$5,000 each from the party ticket aspirants. The Atiku group were alleged to have given the delegates US$2,000 each while Buhari group gave US$3,000. Over 8,000 delegates were reported to have participated in the primaries when you sum the monies that were given out, both camps would have spent over US$16 million and US$24 million respectively on vote buying at the primary stage alone.

It is not true that the practice of vote buying has persisted in Nigeria as a result of inadequate laws, but, we have simply refused to enforce the laws. We must know, if this continues, it heightens election cost, allows for wrong candidates to emerge and run political offices. And the implication is that government accountability will be eroded while the political leaders divert revenues from our natural resources leaving the citizens in  poverty, hunger and miserable state.

Audu Liberty Oseni, PWYP-Nigeria libertydgreat@gmail.com

The leaks in the Snowden revelations, Panama and Paradise papers shows clearly a global corruption network. This gives rise to global poverty and inequality while the privileged few particularly the elite loot and hide their assets.

From the leaks, it becomes clear, keeping legal loopholes for these tax havens is not only unethical but offers only an economic benefit to those hiding their money away from regulators and tax authorities. These acts although may not necessarily be illegal but has lots of moral burdens especially for legitimate elites but is reprehensible for tax dodgers, criminal elements, rent seekers and kleptomaniacs. Therefore, transparency and accountability stakeholders and advocates would need to start a long journey to surmount this glaring tumor of tax heavens.

Illicit financial flows and leakages on taxes havens have exposed the secrets of the elites and also the level of intrigues in the global financial outlays. Since the WikiLeaks, there has been growing leaks that have shown the outer outlays of our modern financial architecture.  The Offshore Leaks Database includes information from close to 500,000 additional offshore entities scattered all over the world.

The revelations of the recent leaks Paradise papers came as more than 380 journalists from 96 media organizations in 67 countries looked at leaked data obtained by German newspaper, Suddeutsche Zeitung, and the International Consortium of International Journalists (ICIJ) from two offshore secrecy providers (Appleby and Asiaciti Trust) and 19 secrecy jurisdictions around the world. The leaked 1.4 terabyte data, now called Paradise Papers, contains 13.4 million records. A huge data.

In addition to the Paradise Papers, the database also includes information on more than 100,000 entities that come from Offshore Leaks, more than 210,000 entities from Panama Papers and more than 175,000 from Bahamas Leaks and more than 120 politicians and country leaders, in nearly 50 countries as well as hundreds of business people across the world were identified in the record as users of offshore entities. These also expose the tax engineering of more than 100 multinational corporations, including Apple, Nike, and Botox-maker Allergan.

In Africa, the Paradise Papers point at six powerful politicians and businesspersons in Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia, and Uganda. In the extractives, the most important revelations show the light on secretive deals and hidden companies connected to Glencore, the world’s largest commodity trader, and provides detailed accounts of the company’s negotiations in the Democratic Republic of Congo for valuable mineral resources.

Africa loses USD 80 billion annually through Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs). Furthermore, the Paradise papers confirm the findings of the High-Level Panel on IFFs of harmful business practices that undermine the integrity of institutions, laws, and policies aimed at improving tax revenue collection in Africa.

For Nigeria, Mr. Emefiele, the Nigeria’s  Central Bank Governor and Jim Ovia, the former Zenith Bank Chairman,  between 2007 and 2012, incorporated three offshore entities in tax havens, which were used to acquire luxury jets and move funds around in cyclical manners that suggested tax avoidance.

Tax experts and journalists believe, the leasing schemes adopted for these transactions were structured to avoid tax – £10,892,166 in total. Tenia Company Limited registered BY Saka Tinubu with operation in the Cayman Islands in April 2001 linked to Mr. Bukola Saraki, the Nigeria’s Senate President was mentioned in Panama papers

Revelations from the leaks have led to pragmatic actions by some states in the west to punish those exposed, while Nigeria and other Africa countries are yet to punish their citizens mentioned in all the leaks. In view of that, we need to galvanize forces to end or reduce the practice of tax havens particularly in British and the US territories which are most conducive for the culprits. We urge and expect these countries to take the lead in addressing the tax heavens practices. And when this happens, it will reduce the huge amount of monies taken offshore from both the advanced economies and Africa’s struggling economies.

Besides poverty and inequality which tax havens have fuelled over time, the operations of Tax of havens has a great huge moral and financial burden which must be stopped immediately. 

Ogwu Paul Okwuchukwu, PWYP Nigeria

The novel Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) audit report has shown Nigeria’s rise in the Solid Minerals earnings. Going by the report, N69.2bn was the revenues Nigeria got from solid minerals in 2015. This represents 25% addition of the N55.8bn revenues from solid minerals in 2014.

The report further disclosed Nigeria production of solid minerals in 2015 was 39.27 million tonnes. This shows a downward of 17% from the 47.1 million tonnes that were in early 2017.

Cement manufacturing companies’ lead in revenue generation in solid minerals, contributing more than 60%. Also, construction and mining companies pulled a string by contributing about 31% and 8 % respectively.

The National Bureau of Statistics report on the States Disaggregated Mining and Quarrying Data for 2016 shows by 2015, Osun state came top in solid minerals production with 36%, while Ogun, Kogi, Cross River states and the Federal Capital Territory contributed 70% production.

In 2015, Nigeria generated $9.733m revenues from solid minerals’ exports. This was 1.45% of the non-oil exports for the said year.

In the report, lead and zinc came top with 79%, valued at $7.7million; and 175 gold, costing at $122,000million.

Also, in 2015, revenues from solid minerals accounted for 0.12% of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This was a minimal rise from 0.01% of the 0.11% recorded in 2014.

As at 2015, 4,305 mineral titles were valid. And in this, mining lease had 204 titles, 657 for small-scale mining; 1,865 for quarrying licenses and that of exploration licenses was for 1,579.

Improvement in tax collection and the review of royalty rates paid by companies were some of the core factors that led to increases in revenues in the sector the report shows.

By 2011 NEITI had carried out a study in solid minerals, this was followed by an independent audit of the solid minerals sector in 2012, covering 2007 to 2010. The audit reports show that Nigeria generated N271.77bn revenues from solid minerals in the periods of 2007 and 2015.

Glad to see Nigeria make a good effort in opening up her solid minerals sector, however, it is important for the state to make the needed investment in the sector. And in that way, the success made will be sustained. One of the ways to go is to immediately release the N30bn Solid Minerals Development Fund that has been approved by the Federal Executive Council, which NEITI recommended in its report.

Apart from insufficient funding affecting the sector, insecurity, and difficulty in getting mining license are some of the major factors that have adverse effect on the solid minerals sector. Therefore, it is important the state immediately address the difficulty in getting mining license and address insecurity especially in the rural community that often hosts mining sites.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) came into being in 2003, with the core aim to lessen corruption and enhance accountability for the proficient use of extractive revenues. With support from the World Bank, oil producing countries, International Oil Companies and investors converged and set principles for transparency in the oil and gas sector known as the EITI standards. And, in these standards, countries that have signed on to them have agreed to make available data on natural resource revenue to the public and to EITI. Conversely, companies who are EITI membership are to make available information on government payments. This is primarily to step up accountability in the natural resource revenue. Interestingly, by 2014, 48 countries had implemented EITI standards while over 237 reports published.

Good as this initiative sounds, on the 2nd day of November 2017, America announced her withdrawal from EITI. Apart from this action denying Americans’ access to public disclosure, it has political implications for Africa and the entire EITI.

Prior to the withdrawal, America has had the decision to exclude section 1504 Dodd-Frank Act that seeks to make it a mandatory disclosure of project level payment data by extractive companies. However, the state action on EITI and Dodd-Frank shows clearly, the giant oil companies continue to win. Chevron and Exxon Mobil who are major oil companies made no pretense in their campaign against EITI standards. It is most worrisome that these companies are represented on the EITI international board. The question becomes, why take part in the process you do not believe in.

The US exit poses the question, do most countries particularly in Africa voluntarily sign on to international instruments and treaties or they are superimposed on them. The neo-colonial states had consistently accused Europe and North-America of imposing treaties and instruments on them even when they are not ready to be abided by such initiatives.

By this exit, US justifies Africa neo-colonial states position that the west does not recognize and value international instruments that are of Africa interest and benefit. The US action no doubt has a huge implication in extractive transparency campaigns that have been done by civil society organizations at the local, national, regional, continental and the international levels.

It is a logical imbalance for America to help in convincing African states to join as EITI countries, six years down the line she threw in the towel and left EITI.  US in defending her action, claims she has municipal laws that make it impossible for EITI implementation in the country. I do not know what they mean by municipal laws impediment, but one would have expected US, an advanced society to subject those laws to a national debate. And when that is done, some of the laws that are not in conformity with EITI principles will be reviewed. Yes, we know US can do this, but she simply refused in search for justification to pull out using the municipal law as an excuse.

At her exit, US promised, she will continue giving all necessary support for the EITI implementation. What US knows and blatantly refused to accept is that her withdrawal from EITI undermines the entire initiative. This action will further plunder Africa back to the Dark Age in the struggle for mandatory disclosure. This is more likely as most African leaders look at US as infallible and tend to copy her actions and state policies.

More worrisome is that US exit affirms the vulnerability of initiatives targeted to extractive transparency. And this further shows states can withdraw from international instruments, treaties and initiative and rely on their local policies and laws to justify their action. For instance, in spite the civil society involvement, Tanzania not quite long withdrew from Open Government Partnership (OGP).

Time has come for the civil society organizations to stand up in the defense of EITI. We do not expect US, an advanced capitalist state to continue her support for EITI. The US assault on the values of EITI is simply the internal contradiction of capitalist crisis and the global quest for state superiority.

Now, as we struggle for extractive transparency in Africa, it is important we know, resist and make sure our demand for extractive resource transparency cannot be completely outsourced to international initiatives. In Africa, we must develop a local initiative that must strengthen national laws, national institutions and create a huge space for civic engagement for CSOs and citizens to play a key role in ensuring extractive transparency in spite the global perception of EITI arising from US exit.

Africans deserve better than to rely on the goodwill of the west to achieve transparency and accountability in her resources governance. We must come to a consensus while exploring natural resources can bring wealth, transparency legislation is fundamental to ensuring that the citizens aren’t shortchanged, we must not as Africans give up our natural resource benefit to tax-evading multi-nationals only to gain nothing in return.

Since 2002, US has actively involved in the EITI and has through her State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development invested over $30 million to support EITI and helping developing countries in the EITI implementation. The US sudden withdrawal throws the burden on Africa to see if we can indeed make any meaningful progress without the West dictating and setting standards for us to follow. We believe this is an invitation for us to set and follow our own standards.

As we ponder on why the US exit, we must remember that both ExxonMobil and Chevron, both of them US oil giant have frantically opposed EITI and the Dodd-Frank Act. Both companies have refused to disclose taxes they have paid to the American government. They argue it is illegal for them to do so. This will no doubt make us understand why US is not keen on supporting EITI.

Obviously, US withdrawal from EITI poses a huge implication to resource-rich African countries, particularly when some countries, Zimbabwe, for instance, is yet to become an EITI country.  We had expected US a global power to show exemplary in helping in achieving extractive transparency, but unfortunately, that was not what we got.

With the America withdrawal, EITI countries, particularly in Africa, need to work harder to sustain the EITI success stories. We must have a radical departure and move beyond good will and intentions. No doubt, EITI has impacted enormously in the extractive transparency and accountability, but we need to show that to the world. And when that happens, America is likely to realize, EITI is in the best interest of all natural resource countries and US inclusive.

Audu Liberty Oseni, PWYP-Nigeria libertydgreat@gmail.com