Group of Nigeria’s Professionals made up of Centre for Financial Journalism(CFJ), Facility for Oil Sector Transformation(FOSTER) and some Financial Journalists in the country, at a Roundtable Dialogue on the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill(PIGB) held recently in Lagos, have expressed their saddness over the continued delay of the passage into law of the 17 years old Bill, believed to be the only panacea to the crisis of the oil and gas industry of the country.
The group in a communique made available to Awesome Brands Magazine, observed that although, the PIGB has already been passed by the National Assembly but yet to be signed into law by the President, other aspects of the PIB are yet to be fully articulated.
Similarly,the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC), has urged the Senate to consider simplifying the fiscal provisions in the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill (PIFB) to ensure easy implementation of the law.
The round table while noting that Nigeria as at present does not have an oil-driven or oil-powered economy as testified to by the nature of cyclical crisis of the oil sector over the arch of time and space, stated that what the country has is an extractive industry that is unfortunately based on vertical operations that cost humongous amount of financial resource, in addition to the dysfunctional structures that compose the oil and gas sector.
This, it said was the reason behind the failure of the political economy to arrived at the desired height in comparison with other oil-producing countries both within the Organisation ofPetroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and outside it.
“The Roundtable identified the challenge of poor management of the oil sector over its history as the main issue to be addressed in the formulation of policies for the oil sector in the new era. The Roundtable calls on government to always have national interests as the major consideration in the appointments into the core operating complexes in the oil and gas industry that require technical and substantive professionalism and not politicalloyalty.”
“The PIB and particularly the PIGB are meant to take control of the industry through legal frameworks that will enable them work for the development of theNigerian economy and welfare of Nigerian people.”
“The PIGB deals essentially with the institutional framework in contra-distinction with the“governance” structure which is taken care of by the entire PIB. The Roundtable notedthat this distinction is necessary in order to remove confusion in its semantics,” it further stated.
The professionals, who urged the government to, among other things, to continue the paradigm shift in setting the fiscal framework and not just the “governance,” or administrative framework; promote and ensure that dry gas works; deliberately incentivize gas production for wider domestic utilization; incentivize local participation in the petroleum economy; manage transition from the current regime; ensure a robust manpower strategy and deliver the reforms as anticipated in the various bills; ensure petroleum policy continuity to make it fit into the expectations of Nigerians asked it to, also, take the entire PIB seriously and ensure the passage of the various aspects of the Bill expeditiously.
It, further stressed that the nation is at the precipice of an economic catastrophe despite the current appreciation of oil prices in the international market because of conspicuous lack of alternative economic bases amidst the dangers of negative dynamics that is being currently witnessed in the global oil market.
The group which informed that it had reviewed the economy from a holistic perspective addded that what is at stake here is the collective economic existence of the country as a people and nation tasked government to take the advocacyof strategic initiatives involved in the diversification of the economy seriously buit not lip services to it.
It called on all stakeholders, including the government, the National Assembly, inter-governmental organizations, the non-governmental and civil societyorganizations, even the international oil companies and international NGOs involved and engaged with the legal reforms in Nigeria to take critical look at various aspects of the PIGB before it is finally signed into law.
However, it enjoined Journalists, particularly financial journalists, to update themselves with latest development not only on the Petroleum Industry Bill or PIGB but more on oil and gas industry locally and globally in their reportage and analysis.
Dr. Maikanti Baru, Group Managing Director of the NNPC, made the submission during the Senate Joint Committee Public Hearing on the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill (PIFB), Petroleum Host and Impacted Communities Development Bill (PHICDB) and Petroleum Industry Administration Bill (PIAB) at the National Assembly, recently.
Represented by the Chief Operating Officer (COO), Gas and Power, Engineer Saidu Mohammed, the GMD also advocated for the inclusion of clauses to make it easy for the law to be reviewed in response to economic, technical and other considerations.
The corporation advocated for incentivizing oil and gas operations to attract investment into the country.
He said there was need to leave out all regulatory issues in the Bill to ensure progressivity and empower the regulatory commission to effectively regulate the industry.
He said NNPC was fully in support of the Petroleum Industry Reform Bill which has now been broken into regulatory, operational and administrative segments for easy passage.
Going down the memory lane, the GMD said the original Petroleum Industry Bill was borne out of the Federal Government’s desire to put in place a robust and desirable legislation to engender transparency, accountability and fairness in the nation’s Oil and Gas Industry.
He noted that although the process of getting the Bill passed had been very challenging, the National Assembly had taken the most practical step to advance its passage by breaking it into phases.
“It is laudable to note that the Governance Bill has been passed by the Legislature while the Fiscal Bill, Administration Bill, and the Host and Impacted Communities Development Bill are going through legislative processes.”
“NNPC appreciates the opportunity to review these bills and we have employed our deep expertise and experiences in the Industry to assess their provisions and will gladly make contributions that will not only enforce the desires of the National Assembly but will ensure that the reform bills when passed into law meet the expectations of Nigerians and investors alike,” Dr. Baru stated.
Earlier, the Lead Senate Committee Chairman, Senator Kabiru Marafa, said the public hearing on the three (3) bills was the first time that the National Assembly was sponsoring the bills in bits and pieces for easy consideration and speedy passage of regulations that would lead to the reform of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry.
The Federal Government, about 17 years ago, sponsored the Petroleum Industry Bill as an executive bill to establish the legal and regulatory framework, institutions and regulatory authorities for the Nigerian petroleum Industry.