By Gift Eguavoen
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) welcomed with excitement, the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) by the National Assembly on Thursday, saying it will reverse the issue of huge revenue losses in the sector.
In a statement in Abuja on Thursday, the Executive Secretary of NEITI Dr, Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, described the decision of the Senate and the House of Representatives to consider the Bill as priority resulting in its eventual passage as bold, courageous and progressive, in view of the challenges the bill has encountered in its legislative journey.
Orji said, NEITI as an agency set up to enthrone transparency and accountability in the management of extractive industries in Nigeria has demonstrated genuine and legitimate interest in the PIB from the onset. “NEITI’s interest is in view of the urgency and strategic importance of a new law to replace the existing archaic legislations that have aided huge revenue losses, impeded transparency, accountability and investment opportunities in the nation’s oil and gas industry”.
He recalled that as an anti-corruption agency in the sector, NEITI boldly alerted the nation through a special Policy Brief entitled “The urgency of a new petroleum sector law,” that the current stagnation of investment opportunities in the Petroleum Industry was as a result of the absence of a new law for the sector, resulting to huge revenue losses to the tune of over $200billion.
In the publication which was widely circulated, NEITI argued that the “revenue losses were as a result of investments withheld or diverted by investors to other (more predictable) jurisdictions.” The publication added that “The hedging by investors stems from the expectation that the old rules would no longer apply, but not knowing when the new ones would materialise.”
In addition, NEITI Reports in the sector had also disclosed that over $10.4billion and N378.7billion were lost through under-remittances, inefficiencies, theft or absence of a clear governance framework for the oil and gas industry. Orji expressed optimism that with the new governance law, these huge revenue losses to the nation as a result of process lapses and outright stealing will be strictly checked if not eliminated.
Furthermore, He noted that “The implementation of the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative which Nigeria is a key signatory, have over the years been frustrated by the absence of a dynamic law that suits modern business modules and trends in the ever evolving oil and gas industry”.
Dr. Orji, expressed the hope that the PIB, when assented to by the President will provide a dynamic governance framework required to re-position the Petroleum industry to fully embrace competition, openness, accountability, professionalism and better profit returns on investments to both companies and government.