Nigerians have continued to hail hursday’s long awaited passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) by the National Assembly.
The latest reaction came from the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Facility for Oil Sector Transformation and Reform (FOSTER), and Facility for Oil Sector Transformation and Reform (FOSTER), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy (CISLAC) and Media Initiative for Transparency in Extractive Industries (MITEI).
The groups, which have been in the Vanguard of the campaign for the passage of the PIB over the years described the development variously as good, bold, positive and significant for the continued growth of the petroleum industry.
In a statement on Friday in Abuja, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Orji Ogbonnaya Orji expressed excitement at the passage of the Bill, saying it is a bold step by both Chambers of the National Assembly. “The decision of the Senate and the House of Representatives to consider the Bill as priority resulting in its eventual passage is bold, courageous and progressive.
“This is given the challenges the Bill has passed through in its legislative journey for over 15 years.”
Orji said as an agency set up to enthrone transparency and accountability in the management of extractive industries in Nigeria, NEITI demonstrated genuine and legitimate interest in the PIB from the onset.
He said NEITI’s interest was in view of the urgency and strategic importance of a new law to replace the existing archaic legislations that aided huge revenue losses, impeded transparency, accountability and investment opportunities in the nation’s oil and gas industry”.
The NEITI Secretary recalled that as an anti-corruption agency in the sector, NEITI boldly alerted the nation through a special Policy Brief “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. This, he noted, led to huge revenue losses to the tune of over $200billion. In the publication, Orji said NEITI argued that the “revenue losses were as a result of investments withheld or diverted by investors to other (more predictable) jurisdictions.”
“The hedging by investors stems from the expectation that the old rules would no longer apply, but not knowing when the new ones would materialism,” he quoted the publication.
Besides, he said 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.
He said with the new governance law for the industry, these huge revenue losses to the nation as a result of process lapses and outright stealing would be strictly checked if not eliminated.
“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,” he said.
Orji expressed the hope that the PIB when assented to by the President would 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.
NEITI and its multi-stakeholders, he said, were encouraged that the National Assembly in this particular instance threw politics aside and dealt with the PIB issue with the attention it deserves in over all public interest.
While commending the media, the civil society, development partners, industry, stakeholders and experts who followed the Bill in the National Assembly for their valued contributions to what has been achieved so far, Orji urged them to remain awake to their responsibilities to monitor its implementation.
While awaiting the early harmonisation and the details of the contents of the Bill as passed, Orji urged the President to quickly consider and assent to the Bill to bring immediate full value to the country.
“We looks forward to working with stakeholders in the industry to ensure effective implementation under the global EITI framework,” Orji said.
On its part,
CISLAC commended the National Assembly for passing the Bill into law.
Recalling the intense campaign and advocacy by several groups in civil society, the Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Rafsanjani said the passage of the PIB is the reward for their hardwork, commitment and resilience.
Rafsanjani said Bill passed by the National Assembly would provide clear legal framework to regulate the oil and gas sector to provide some certainty, transparency and accountability necessary for investments and maximization of benefits for Nigerians.
“We are therefore encouraged by the National Assembly, which we believe has re-kindled the hope that this elusive and all-important law could see the light of day in the life of this administration.
CISLAC reminded the Federal Government that the passage of this law was a campaign promise made upon election in 2015, which was repeated over the past six years.
CISLAC said by the schedule of the much publicised 7 Big Wins by the government, the PIB ought to have been passed since December 2016, resulting in the loss of trillions of Naira over 20 years of uncertainty.
Apart from the loss, CISLAC said the delay in passing the PIB also resulted in the loss of investor confidence and investments with all its attendant implication to the petroleum sector, which Nigeria depends on for over 80 percent of its foreign exchange and about 92 percent of its revenue earnings.
CISLAC therefore called on the Legislative and administrative sects of the National Assembly to complete the process necessary for the Bill to be submitted to the President for immediate assent.
“This will further assure Nigerians of the NASS’ commitment to ensure that the PIB is passed into law during this 9th legislative session, to end the 20-year wait for reforms and clear policy and legislative direction for the oil and gas sector in Nigeria.
“We call on the President, upon receipt of the Bill, to assent to it without further delay as a mark of integrity to fulfil a long standing promise to Nigerians, demonstrate of his commitment to sanitizing the oil and gas sector, which is notorious for corruption, and making a mark that will negate the insinuations that his refusal to assent to the PIB will be linked to the aspiration of retaining discretionary powers for the office of the Minster of Petroleum Resources, which he currently occupies, to award oil licenses.”
In his reaction, the Lead Director, FOSTER, Henry Adigun, said the passage of the PIB was a good thing and expressed the hope that the President would sign it into law this time around.
“It (passage of PIB) is a positive development. Hopefully they would tackle the knotty issues in it around the NNPC having the same thing for six months, allocation of 3 percent of oil companies’ operational budget to the host oil communities’ development, and lack of clarity on some clauses.
“Hopefully the President signs it this time,” Adigun said.
The National Coordinator, MITEI, Udo Bassey also joined in congratulating the National Assembly for the PIB, saying it was an indication that the development and growth of the petroleum industry in finally ready to take off.
” Having waited for over 20 years for a new petroleum industry law, the passage of the PIB by the National Assembly is the beginning of a new Vista in the petroleum industry.
“We believe the new PIB will remove uncertainty in the operations of the industry and ensure transparency and accountability, which we subscribe to, would become the hallmark of the business of the petroleum industry, for the greater good of all Nigerians,” Udo said.