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Nigeria takes the lead on oil industry revenue transparency

President Olusegun Obasanjo says that Nigeria will publish openly the revenues it receives from its oil industry

Speaking at a press conference in Berlin today associated with the tenth anniversary of the global anti-corruption organisation, Transparency International, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria declared that his country would be publishing openly the revenues it receives from its oil industry. This would be in keeping with the principles of the UK government-led Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Nigeria will "tailor the EITI templates to suit the circumstances of its oil and gas sector", President Obasanjo said today. He also stated his support for the principles of the NGO-led campaign Publish What You Pay, saying that the public could be forgiven for not having confidence in the figures if only one side of the equation were published. Nigeria would therefore be requiring companies individually to publish their payments. The people would then be able to see whether there was a consistency between what was said to have been paid and what was said to have been received.

Peter Eigen, Chairman of Transparency International, said today: "We are delighted that the President honoured us with his presence at the 10th anniversary of our organisation, of which he was himself a founding member and for several years Chairman of our Advisory Council. We are overjoyed at the thought that one of world's major oil-producing nations has come out so clearly in favour of revenue transparency."

This is welcome news in the same week that enhanced arrangements have been announced for the publication of Iraqi oil revenues and their use. The Nigerian move was also welcomed by Chris Finlayson, Chairman of the Shell companies in Nigeria, who was in Berlin to attend the press conference.

Transparency International has been campaigning along with other civil society groups for companies to "Publish What You Pay" and for governments to publish what they earn in a manner such that they can then be held to account. David Murray, Deputy Chairman of Transparency International (UK), added that "We hope other governments, especially where natural resource riches sit alongside extreme poverty, will follow Nigeria's good example and require this degree of fiscal openness."

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