Nigerian civil society groups on Wednesday decried their exclusion by the government from the processes involved in the forthcoming 2020 marginal oil fields bid round.
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) had a few days ago opened the bid process for the award of 57 new oil licences to prospective Nigerian companies and investors interested in the exploration and production (E&P) activities
But the group complained that the published bid guidelines by the Department did not involve CSOs among agencies that would monitor the exercise.
In a letter dated June 15 to the DPR Director, Sarki Auwalu, the group specifically demanded immediate inclusion of at least two civil society representatives as members of the bidders screening team even as observers in order to build public trust and investors’ confidence in the exercise.
In addition, the group also canvassed a strong legislative oversight by the National Assembly, and involvement of the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) before, during and after the exercise to avert the bitter experiences of the past.
This is even as it raised concern on the published guidelines, which were fraught with provisions that may hamper the interest of genuine bidders in the oil fields and deny the country the benefits of set objectives.
It stated: “After reviewing the Guidelines, and putting into perspective past experiences and pitfalls of similar processes, we deem it important to draw your attention to some of the points that could hinder the success of the process, or limit Nigeria from deriving optimal financial and socio-economic benefits from the exercise.
“We are prepared to play our roles as Civil Society in support of this very important national exercise, with the understanding that it is intended and designed to deliver the overriding interest of Nigeria and Nigerians,” the group added.
Signatories to the protest letter by the group include National Coordinator, Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Nigeria, Peter Egbule; Executive Director Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA), Faith Nwadishi; Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Rafsanjani Auwal Musa; Chairman, Human and environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), Olanrewaju Suraj and National President, Green Alliance Nigeria (GAN), Chima Williams, amongst others.