As moves towards the re-presentation of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) before the National Assembly gains momentum, e360 writes on areas which experts have identified as critical and advised stakeholders to vigilantly look out for in the bill
Industry experts have itemized key areas that Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), media and Nigerians in general should look out for in the PIB before it is passed by the National Assembly.
They stressed that certain critical provisions must be covered in the bill for it to result in meaningful transformation in the management of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.
Speaking at a strategy meeting on the PIB passage organized in Abuja by Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD) with support from OSIWA, stakeholders were advised to thoroughly engage the bill when the current version is made public and make inputs before it is passed by the National Assembly.
Presenting a paper titled, ‘The PIB and its Prospects’, oil sector expert, Dr. Garuba Dauda, said, stakeholders must look out for key thematic areas such as governance spectrum, economic, social and environmental spectrums.
Mr. Monday Osasah, Executive Director, Centre LSD, during the PIB strategy meeting
Dr. Dauda advised stakeholders not to be intimidated by the volume or technicality of the bill, but to thoroughly interrogate it and ensure that under the governance spectrum the bill provides for “tight but flexible framework with parameters for level playing that meets all time needs, streamlined institutions, transparency and accountability.”
Similarly, under the economic spectrum, he said stakeholders should precisely look for provisions supporting maximum take for government, linkage with other sectors of economy and progressive economic development, while also ensuring that the bill adequately supports environmental protection, CSR and host community fund management that is linked with local economy.
He emphasized that the PIB needs to be passed urgently to address the country’s declining output and sales, discrepancies in fund inflow and outflows, weak institutional capacities and inefficient revenue management.
The expert added further that the PIB is needed to help address the negative trends in Nigeria’s extractive sector such as poor governance regime, low rent flow, resource wars and conflict entrepreneurs as well as end looting by elite captors.
Also speaking, oil sector analyst, Dr. Otive Igbuzor, regretted that new frontiers like Ghana, Mozambique and Angola all successfully passed their oil sector reform laws and position their countries for investment inflow, while Nigeria has been delaying for nearly 20years.
Dr. Igbuzor who is currently Chief of Staff to the Deputy President of the Senate, says now that the present government has shown the will to pass the bill, he expects stakeholders to look out for “clear role for government and institutions, legal institutional reform, fiscal reform that will ensure more revenue for government, host communities and implementation framework that works,” in the bill.
He added further that stakeholders should ensure they focus on, and be interested in the entire content of the bill and make inputs during the public hearings to avoid pitfalls after it becomes law. He urged members of the Centre LSD PIB strategy group and other actors, to strategically follow through until the bill is signed into law.
Executive Director of Centre LSD, Mr. Monday Osasah, in his remarks expressed sadness that the non passage of the PIB has resulted in diversion of investments from Nigeria with several billion dollars investment lost over the years.
He stated that Ghana started and completed its petroleum sector reform law in less than two years, adding that “The failure of Nigeria to pass the PIB after repeated attempts continues to accumulate huge costs for the country.”
However, he expressed optimism that the close working relationship between the current Executive and Legislature is an opportunity for CSOs to latch on and pull through.
Meanwhile, speaking on Thursday during a webinar organised by the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva, assured that the PIB will be presented to the National Assembly in the next few weeks.
Sylva said the Executive arm would be requesting the lawmakers to specially reconvene to receive and begin deliberations on the Bill, which he acknowledged as key to repositioning Nigeria’s petroleum industry.
The minister however, declined to give a specific timeline on when the bill will be passed saying, “I cannot give a specific timeline on the passage of the PIB because it involves the National Assembly. I can only give our own timeline and what we have been doing.”
Efforts to reform the Nigerian oil and gas industry began in 2000 with the inauguration of the oil and gas reform committee. Sadly, since then successive governments have failed to advance the reforms in what experts describe as the lack of political will and commitment.
The oil sector reform bill which has lingered in the National Assembly for close to 20 years now, has remained an impediment to carrying out needed reforms, resulting in the exodus of investments from Nigeria to neighboring African countries with more certain environments.