A Coalition of Civil Society Organisation engaging in the Natural Resource Governance sector has hailed the emergence of Professor Mina Ogbanga as the new Civil Society representative on the NEITI National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG).

The Coalition of Civil Society led by Mr. Ezenwa Nwagwu in a press conference held today in Abuja while commending her election called on the Federal Government to approve the nomination as sent in by the Civil Society Organizations.

“I am delighted to announce that, after a painstaking process, Professor Mina Ogbanga, a well-known environmental activist and education for all advocate from the oil-rich Niger Delta has been elected to represent the Civil Society on the NEITI NSWG”. Mr Nwagwu stated.

According to Mr Nwagwu “The lady elected to represent the civil society on the NSWG is an outstanding intellectual, renowned environmentalist and a woman ready for the job”.

Mr Nwagwu noted that Professor Mina Ogbanga emerged after a keenly contested election beating the other four contestants to the position. Her opponents in the contest comprises of Victoria Ibezim -Ohaeri, Ibeh Nkem Gloria, Celestine Okwudili Odo and Emem Okon.

He noted that “The election process was midwifed by Ms Faith Nwadishi, a former member of the NSWG and a former member of the Global EITI international Board who was unanimously appointed by the Civil Society to Chair the Committee.

“let me state clearly that the ability of the meeting to identify a foremost Civil Society leader in the sector who served this Country at the Board of the NEITI and had the privilege of representing Anglophone Africa at the international Board of the EITI to Chair the Committee was in recognition of her rare credentials.

“The wisdom in the selection of Ms Faith Nwadishi with these rare credentials was to bring her local and international reputation and experience to bear in midwifing this process.

“I am proud to say that from the report we have received, Ms Faith Nwadishi discharged that assignment with distinction inspite of distractions, bullying, sabotage, blackmail and outright treachery by a few of us who came to participate in the process with selfish motive, self-entitlement mentality either for themselves or their cronies”. Mr Nwagwu explained.

“You may recall that an opening emerged on the NEITI Board after the resignation of the Civil Society representative, Mr Peter Egbule after an extensive agitation by the Civil Society actors engaging in the extractive sector on the grounds that his appointment did not follow the laid down policy guidelines.

“Our sustained agitation as Civil Society Organisations since the current NEITI, NSWG was constituted; that the process that threw up the former Civil Society representative on the NEITI National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG) Mr Peter Egbule did not follow the policy guidelines developed by the Civil Society on the process to follow in such nominations”. Mr Nwagwu

He stated that “we as Civil Society Organizations formally brought this major process lapse to the attention of the NEITI NSWG chaired by Barrister Olusegun Adekunle for review and remedy”.

According to the Leader of the Coalition “Our agitation was based on the fact that we in the Civil Society Constituency played major role in EITI globally and as a major stakeholder, whoever represents us on NEITI Board must emerge through a process and recommended to the President of Nigeria for consideration and appointment”.

He further explained that “As a result of our complaints and sustained position on this issue, the NEITI, NSWG constituted a committee to review the process. The report of that committee achieved two major developments. Resignation of CSO representative on the NSWG; Advise to the government to reverse and give the CSOs the opportunity to elect its representative on NEITI, NSWG.

He stated that “The Federal Government through the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation reversed itself and requested the CSOs to commence and conduct a process to fill the gap”.

It is on record that the notice given by government for the civil society to replace their representative has almost elapse, it took us over 40 days to conclude this because of the concentration for details given to ensure that this process is right at the end of the day, we still have people who are complaining in the Civil Society movement.

Let me use this opportunity to inform all of us that the election was conducted and Prof Mina Obanga emerged, whatever may have been the issues encountered during the process may constitutes lessons we may have learnt.

Today, this has been achieved and we have a nominee in the person of Professor Mina Ogbanga to fill that vacuum.

Dr. Mina Ogbanga is a grassroots mobiliser, a gender and a social inclusion expert amongst others. She is an Associate Professor with over 23 years of demonstrated experience in the oil and gas sector, specifically the extractive sector.

She is also the founder and CEO of the Centre for Development Support Initiatives (CEDSI), that has been committed to supporting community rights, stakeholder engagement and social performance amongst others in the extractive industry.

Dr Ogbanga has meritoriously served in the past as a steering committee member on the NEITI Civil Society Steering committee where she contributed immensely to several transformative measures in the sector.

She is a Graduate of several National and International Universities where she graduated Summa Cum Laude, examples: Harvard University, Executive Program, United States, Cambridge University, United Kingdom in Cross sector partnership now Sustainability Studies, University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, just to mention a few, majorly in the areas of sustainable development studies.

Professor Ogbanga is a reputable woman of substance and mix directly into the 3 Cs which stands for Capacity, Competence and Credibility which are sterling qualities required to function in any system.

Mr Nwagwu maintained that Prof. Ogbanga’s election has also helped the civil society to have quality representation and address the huge issue of gender gap in the current NSWG Board which is made up of 15 Members with only one woman who is a government appointee.

We therefore wish to use this opportunity to call on NEITI, the international EITI and the Civil Society Organisations in the EITI Process to ignore any insinuations against this process because it is lacking in merit.

We also want to use this opportunity to call on government to please approve our choice to represent the civil society in the NSWG.

The Coalition advised Professor Ogbanga to immediately initiate a reconciliatory process to immediately reunite the civil society constituency to harmonise the divergent groups.

The Coalition for Civil Society engaging in the extractive sector are a mix of civil society organizations, professional associations and media working round the clock to push the frontiers for transparency and accountability in the nations extractive sector.

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