By Obas Esiedesa
The passage and assent into law of the four components of the Petroleum Industry Bills (PIBs) will save Nigeria about N3 trillion annual loses, Publish What You Pay Nigeria has said.
The claim by the coalition of civil society organisations working in the extractive industry in the country came amid controversy surrounding the where about of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) passed by both chambers of the National Assembly three months ago.
Speaking to journalists at a press briefing by PWYP Nigeria, its National Coordinator, Mr. Peter Egbule urged the parliament to urgently pass the remaining components of the bill in the interest of Nigeria.
He reminded the legislators that the law governing the industry was long overdue for replacement.
“It is important to note that the substantive law presently guiding the operations, administration, and overarching regulation of the petroleum industry in Nigeria (the Petroleum Act of 1969), was enacted about fifty years ago. Some of the provisions of this act have since been overtaken by significant changes in the domestic and global realities of the industry. In spite of this obvious need to restructure the regulatory frameworks of the entire petroleum value chain in Nigeria, successive administrations have failed to achieve this”, he pointed out.
According to him, the passage of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), the Petroleum Industry Administrative Bill (PIAB), the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill (PIFB), and the Petroleum Host and Impacted Community Bill (PHAICB), would also encourage foreign investments and dispel the current state of uncertainty pervading the industry.
He said: “the passage of, and signing into law of these bills is in the collective interest of all Nigerians, as this will create a more functional administrative structure, significantly reduce financial leakages, encourage foreign and domestic investments, provide succor for host communities, among others.
“We recognize and appreciate the various innovative efforts made so far by the present administration, as well as the valuable time dedicated on the bills by the National Assembly towards accomplishing the passage of these bills. We commend these efforts, and appeal to them not to relent.
“Although we hope and expect that the President will assent to the PIGB and the other bills whenever they are transmitted to him, but we also recognize that it is his right to refuse assent. If the latter happens, it will be disappointing to well-meaning Nigerians, resulting in another round of legislative reconsiderations, political intrigues, delays, and public frustrations. This will be a major setback in our collective interest in establishing a more responsive and socioeconomically impactful Nigeria Petroleum Industry, as well as send the wrong signal to Nigerians and the global community at large”, he added.
The group therefore appealed to the “National Assembly to immediately refocus on the passage of the Bills, and intentionally dedicate substantial time for the legislative processes required for the passage of the bills, before they become engrossed in the obviously heightening political activities towards the 2019 general elections”.
PWYP also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to act in line with his incessantly proclaimed stance on corruption and expedite action on his assent to the bills.
Egbule was supported at the briefing by zonal coordinators of PYWP including, Haruna Hadija (North West), Ogechukwu Enwelum (South East), Taiwo Otitilayo and Dr. Erisa Danladi (North East)