Natural Resource Governance: Stakeholders validate Center LSD Research Report with policy recommendations for Nigeria


Prof. Peter Akper

Stakeholders of the extractive industry in Nigeria on Wednesday reviewed and validated a Centre LSD Research Report titled, “West African Regional Policies on Natural Resource Governance: Lessons and Policy Recommendations for Nigeria.”

Peter Akper (SAN), Professor of Law who is the Team Lead of the Study Group that evolved the Report, described Natural Resource Governance (NRG) as the set of norms, institutions and processes that govern the exercise of power, decision-making, and participation of citizens in managing natural resources.

Akper, an Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) pointed out that Natural Resource Governance is central to socio-economic discourse of the people because of increased awareness and demand by the people that their natural resources should be sustainably exploited and the proceeds properly managed for the benefit of the people.

He expressed concern that “despite the ECOWAS region’s vast mineral resources, such as antimony, bauxite, chromium, copper, copper-gold, diamond, gold, heavy minerals, iron ore, lead zinc, manganese, and petroleum, it suffers from the  ‘resource curse’ or ‘paradox of plenty’ as the natural resource has yet to translate in the improvement of the living conditions of the people.”

“The extractive sector has developed in enclaves thereby limiting its potential to catalyse broad-based development in line with the African Mining Vision.

Discussing other gaps which the report has addressed, he said: “The absence of appropriate NRG frameworks and poor implementation due to weak laws and institutions have made the ECOWAS region susceptible to intersectional issues such as natural resource-induced conflicts, benefit sharing agitations, lack of inclusivity, discrimination, Sexual Gender-based Violence, and occupational health and safety concerns.”

He said the research and its outcome aims to put in place proper NRG frameworks and effective implementation needed for sustainable exploitation of the region’s resources and management to promote inclusive growth and improvement in the living standards of the people.

Discussing key finding and recommendations of the report, Prof Peter Akper said lamented that ECOWAS Region lacks a petroleum sector policy, a gap that needs to be addressed, adding that the ECOWAS Mining Policy does not align with the African Mining Vision adopted by African Union Heads of States and Governments in 2009.

The report revealed that the ECOWAS Regional Instruments and National policies and laws do not adequately address intersectional issues like child labour, gender discrimination, PWD, SGBV, and other inequalities in the extractive sector.

It therefore called on the ECOWAS Commission to act, stating: “The ECOWAS Commission should aim for a more robust consideration and treatment of intersectional issues in the extractive sector policies,” adding that all these policy related challenges can be addressed in the Medium Term (3-5 years).

Discussing finings in the area of Legal Framework, the Report said “ECOWAS has yet to enact a binding legal instrument to regulate operations in the petroleum sector.”

“Given the importance of the sector to catalyse the region’s development and improve its people’s well–being, the ECOWAS Commission should commence the process of negotiating and adopting a legal framework to regulate the extraction of the region’s petroleum resources.”

According to the report, “ECOWAS regional laws do not sufficiently address intersectional issues,” adding that there is need for the ECOWAS Commission to commence the process of reviewing regional laws in the extractive sector to make them robust for addressing identified intersectional issues in the mining sector.

In the area of Institutional Framework, the Report stated: “The ECOWAS Commission should be strengthened in terms of human and material resources to set standards in the extractive sector and monitor compliance by Member States.”

Among other recommendations, the report encouraged the ECOWAS Commission to design and implement capacity-building programmes for member-states. This, the report said, will enable them discharge their obligations effectively in accordance with regional policies and legal instruments in the extractive sector.

In her motion for the validation of the Research Report, Executive Director, Divine Era Development and Social Rights Initiative (DEDSRI), Barr. Enwelum Ogechukwu enjoined stakeholders at the meeting to ratify the report, stating it is satisfactory. “Having considered the research method, findings and recommendations, I believe we are in agreement that the document is valid and will be useful in providing policy makers with information needed for the enactment of the right laws and policies which implementation will lead to the orderly development of natural resources in Nigeria and the West African sub region.”

The motion, which was not countered, was seconded by the Executive Director, Initiative for Collective Development Efforts (ICDE), Mr. Mohammed Buba Kucici.

Stakeholders commended Centre LSD, Ford Foundation and the Research Team for working together to put in place a document adjudged as the first of its kind in Nigeria.

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