PIB: Stakeholders Push for Speedy Passage of Bill into Law

Stakeholders at the 4th Save Nigeria’s Oil And Gas Industry Engagement has asked Nigeria’s National Assembly to swiftly ensure the passage of the Petroleum Industry Government Bill (PIGB).

They also urged the assembly to consult stakeholders before passing the Petroleum Industrial Bill into law.

This was part of the resolutions made by the participants a virtual workshop organized by the African Initiative for Transparency and Responsible Leadership (AfriTAL), on Petroleum Industry Bill: Myths and Realities.

The workshop participants also agreed that civil society groups and the media be mobilized to pressure lawmakers and the executive into having the law passed.

“The Federal Government and the NASS should urgently emplace the process of passing the petroleum industry bill,” they posited.

They also called on the government to stop using discretion in matters of economic importance to investors adding that investors prefer to deal with a rule-based government, which would assure that their investments are safe and profitable.

“The Federal Government and the NASS should urgently emplace the process of passing the petroleum industry bill.

“The country must make deliberate efforts to move away from upstream rent focused economy, to a more productive based processing economy in the midstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry, which would make the country reap the bounties of abundance surrounding her hydrocarbon resources and at the end, aid employment generation

“Conclude on the NGFCP, which started in 2016 PENGASSAN and NUPENG should work with the media and Civil Society organizations to put pressure on the Federal Government and the National Assembly to pass the PIB this year.

“Review the Petroleum Act to reflect the new realities by removing hindrances, which would discourage local and international investors from investing in the oil and gas industry,” the participates said.

The Former President of PENGASSAN and former Deputy President General 1 of TUC, Convener of the Save Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry and founder of AfriTAL, Dr. Louis Brown Ogbeifun noted that the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy is the oil and gas. Paradoxically, the stakeholders, which should work together for the good of the industry are all unhappy partners and at each other’s throat.

“Government is unhappy with its financial take, companies are complaining about multi-layered taxation, lack of laws to support investments, uncompetitive when compared to smaller countries, high cost of funds in doing business and therefore divesting and having a year in year out redundancies, unions are aggrieved because of the losses of membership, outsourcing and what they term unfair labour practices in the industry, and communities are riddled with sadness, sorrow and tears because of the effect of oil exploration and on environment and gas flare. All these have been made worse by COVID 19,” he added.

He stated that though the government realized long ago that the industry was in a parlous state, it has not been serious with the efforts at transforming the industry into a bankable sector.

In the ensuing discussions, Dr. Tim Okon averred that there has been tremendous progress in laying the framework for the New PIB, which should be in the custody of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources.

It would have been presented to the National Assembly but for the COVID 19 Pandemic. He said stakeholders need to understand the imperatives and be prepared to handle the future because the oil age is likely to come to an end, and wondered if it had not already ended.

He said one of the major challenges with Nigeria is the perpetual obsession and focus on the upstream. The government is obsessed with rent collection and has lost focus on developing the value chain of the hydrocarbon industry.

“This is what has brought Nigeria to its knees. He opined that this should gradually give way to serious considerations for the development of the midstream and downstream sectors, which have so many opportunities. We have for so long concentrated on rent collection without any serious consideration for the uncertainties that accost the nation when oil prices fall. He expressed happiness that every stakeholder is now complaining and should, therefore, work together for the good of the industry.

“The market knows how to function and should be made to do so. For instance, when oil prices are low, the refineries make a lot of money. When the price of crude is high, it makes less money. If subsidies are removed and the refineries are working, the market would regulate itself through market forces and therefore, taking care of itself,” he stated.

On the allegation that other stakeholders are not being carried along, Dr. Okon said, the National Assembly has a consultative process, which would bring together all the stakeholders during the public hearings. The reason the PIB is not made public now is to ensure that a document that would be in the public space should have the seal of government.

This is to avoid not having several versions as it was in the past when there were about four versions that found its way into the public domain, which became a source of agitation and bickering.

Confirming what Okon said, a member of the House of Representatives Committees on Appropriation and Navy, Henry Nwauba, Nwauba who played a key role as a member of the technical committee on PIB during the 8th Assembly, recalled that the back and forth on this Bill in the 8th Assembly only ended up with the PIGB.

“That is why he has been eager to ensure that this time around, the Bill should see the light of the day in the life of this 9th Assembly. For them in the National Assembly, they are waiting for the Bill.

“The two Chambers are in tandem on how to engage the stakeholders and give the bill accelerated passage. He said they had expected it in June 2020 but the present uncertainties might have affected the time,” he added.

He appealed to stakeholders to be a bit more patient so that when it eventually comes, it would serve the good of all. He also confirmed that they shall be focusing on other aspects of the oil industry especially at the mid and downstream levels respectively.

Source: https://www.mapmedia.ng/pib-stakeholders-push-for-speedy-passage-of-bill-into-law/