To further amplify the clamour for the passage and assent to the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), e360 speaks with Wumi Iledare, a professor of petroleum economics and policy research and director of Energy Information Division of the Centre for Energy Studies. Prof Iledare shares insights on what the bill represent for the oil industry and why it should be urgently passed. Excerpts
What does the assent to the PIGB mean for the Nigerian oil industry?
The assent will take away the uncertainty that has been there for so long. If we pass this alone, to start with, it shows that Nigeria is now serious because the bill is about accountability and transparency. Accountability in the sense that you know the agency to hold responsible for what. Once it becomes law, there will more clarity and accountability in the industry.
Do you foresee a quick assent to the PIGB?
Although politicians are very difficult to predict, but I will be surprised if the President Muhammadu Buhari does not use it to do some bargaining. You know there are some issues between the Senate and the Executive arm of government, the Senate is not confirming some appointment, it’s not even setting up the hearing, so I see the possibility of using this as a bargaining chip between both arms of government. We know it’s a power tussle but the President must be careful to make sure that they do not have a vote to override otherwise he losses the battle. But I think the minister of state petroleum resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu is very interested and he’s probably going to advise the President accordingly.
Do you think passage of the PIGB will make Nigeria more competitive on the global oil industry stage?
Well I do not have a crystal ball, but it’s going to lead to making us more attractive to investors. Presently if you look at what the investors have to go through to get contracts awarded, this PIGB will shorten the contractual circle because you just have to go to one agency which is the Nigerian Petroleum Regulatory Commission to get all that you need from the exploration, prospecting and mining, you deal with only one agency and that shortens the contract circle which actually make the cost of business lower than having to go from one door to the other before you get the permission for your business.
Without the passage of other sections of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) such as the fiscals and host community sections, can the PIGB actually achieve much in transforming the oil sector?
It’s about governance, the others is what the institutions will do. The other segments actually gives them definitive responsibility but the PIGB is just like the foundation. Once you have the foundation you can decide to build as much rooms as you wish. But if the foundation is not properly structured, you can’t do anything. Let me also confirm to you that the three bills are moving at the same pace at the National Assembly. By the end of this month (March) I’m sure the National Assembly will probably receive all the bills and there will be public engagement and before the next legislative session the three bills would have been passed and we will begin the transition phase.
How does the Passage and assent to these bills impact directly on the life of a Nigerian?
When leakages are blocked more money will be used for what it is meant to be used for. What we have had in the past made it easy to convert common wealth to personal wealth. This bill will allow the preservation of the common wealth for the benefit of the people which is really the essence of it. If you look at the whole draft, you will find out that the essence of this bill is to make the creation of wealth to be expanded. It is about expanding the base so that much more people can become a beneficiary of Nigeria’s petroleum resources.