By Oke Epia
I must inform you that the journey to this RemTrack app launch started over a year ago. So rather than a destination, this august gathering is more of a milestone in the progression towards extraction of maximum benefits to citizens from Nigeria’s humongous petroleum resources.
The story of RemTrack is a worthy example and demonstration of the multi-stakeholder template of engagement embedded in the EITI template. Even though a civil society initiative, the design and development of the mobile app has benefited immensely from the participation and partnerships of stakeholders covered in the remediation process anchored by NEITI. This year-long journey has witnessed series of consultations, email exchanges, and visitations to different parts of the country. The aim has been to reflect the widest possible interests and tendencies in the current app available for download and subsequent citizen engagement.
This partnership and collaborative process has not been without challenges. But in those we all came out stronger and with better understanding of where we are and where we are going. This is not to say we have arrived. Like all tech tools, iterations and updates are inevitable and this is not necessarily only on account of software advancements but also to reflect the dynamics of the multi-stakeholder process this project subscribed and is committed to. I am therefore saying that what you will see shortly is not a perfect product. It is more a proof of concept being escalated into the public arena to expand the space for citizen engagement in the extractive sector of our national life. Feedbacks are continually desirable as we continue to co-create towards perfection.
RemTrack, I must say, is for the good of country. We have not designed it as a tool to deride or witch-hunt anybody or stakeholder. Rather, we are putting in the hands of citizens, a simplified dataset of knowledge and germane information on the state of Nigeria’s extractive industry as contained in the annual audits of NEITI. All that we have is all that we have been given by the transparency watchdog and nothing more. This is therefore to assure you that the integrity and sanctity of data contained in the app have met highest possible standards of co-creation and authorization. We are careful to place in the hands of citizens a verified and validated tool that promises only healthy, factual and evidence-based engagements we all will be happy about at the end of the day. Like we have in our ConsTrack mobile app for civic engagements in budget and public projects tracking, the RemTrack app boasts of the highest standards of content verification and validation which have gone through layers of vetting across value chains.
My team and I are proud of and grateful to God Almighty for the opportunity to be central to this historic innovation. RemTrack is special baby birthed for a time as this. You will agree with me that it is an exciting and novel addition into the burgeoning TAGG-tech space of Nigeria’s digitalized economy. We have seen the enormous contribution FinTech for instance has made to the financial sector. The Transparency, Accountability and Good Governance (TAGG) tech space is not as developed as FinTech but it is no doubt emerging strongly. And we are proud that RemTrack has come to signpost a global innovation in the space as far as extractive transparency and accountability is concerned. Yes, it is a global innovation because RemTrack is the first of its kind in all EITI member countries worldwide. Little wonder, Mr, Mark Robinson, Head of the global secretariat of the EITI, expressed excitement and high expectations of RemTrack during his visit to the country last week.
My team and I are immensely grateful to the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr. Waziri Adio, and the rest of his record-setting team at the secretariat for the immense support and push the RemTrack project has received since its conception till now. We acknowledge and put on record the remarkable guidance and direction the Civil Society Steering Committee (CSSC) of NEITI ably led by the indefatigable Kolawole Banwo, has provided for the project, its very own project indeed! We thank all stakeholders – corporates, government agencies, civil society colleagues, youth groups, media colleagues and many others – whose invaluable contributions have brought us thus far. I must also place on record, the tireless efforts of my colleagues at OrderPaper who
Most importantly, I thank Almighty God, the most beneficient, omnipotent and omni-scient who shielded us with his mercies, abiding grace and wisdom to design, develop and make the RemTrack app ready for this public unveiling.
Oke Epia is the executive director, OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative.