By Victor Ahiuma-Young
TRADE Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), has expressed happiness over the progress of the Petroleum Industry Bill in the senate, saying that with the second reading of the Bill there is hope that Petroleum Industry Bill and the passage Gas Flaring Prohibition Act would be passed before the end of 2009.
TUC in a statement jointly Â signed by the President-General and Secretary-General, Comrade Peter Esele and Chief John Kolawole, respectively, said the body strongly believed thatÂ these bills would definitely change the way business in the oil and gas sector which is the number one revenue earner for the country was run.
According to the statement: â€œThe passage of the Gas prohibition Act and the successful second reading of the Petroleum Industry Bill is commendable as they are coming at a period when the entire National Assembly is under intense public bashing over what they perceives as underperformance, shows that our law makers are waking up to their primary responsibility which off-course is to make good laws for the country. We reckon that when the petroleum industry bill is finally passed into law, it will among others remove the country from the shackles of International Oil Company (IOC) that has constantly harassed and undermined our systems. It will also help in the specialisation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as it will remove the organization from the present status of â€œjack of all tradesâ€ and â€œmaster of noneâ€, to a more serious business entity capable of challenging other oil majors the world over.â€
â€The congress also sees an NNPC that will with the passage of the bill become a financially independent organization that can stand on its own without having to rush cap-in-hand to the Federation Account Committee to beg for funds as it can raise funds for its operations from both the domestic and international markets. TUC also foresees a new national oil company that will emerge out of this process as having the boldness to enter into partnership agreement with key players in the private sector through significant equity holdings, andÂ also take care of some legal and institutional framework that would allow NNPC to continuously use the multiple instruments of policy making, regulations and different strategies of commercial operations to create an industry that would conform at all times to global best practices in all relevant parameters.â€
The statement added: â€œThough, we see a snare to the entire process if the House of Representatives do not toe the line of senate. We therefore urge members of the House of Reps to without further delay commence deliberations on the bill, as the bill is essential to the survival of the nationâ€™s oil and gas industry. The passing of the gas flaring act, which outlaws gas flaring by January 2010, has finally put to an end the senseless wastage of our national resources for decades, and which successive governments and national assemblies have closed eyes to probably due to the overbearing influence of oil companies operating in the country. Or how could a system close its eyes to hazards on its citizens in the name of gas flaringâ€™â€
â€We therefore state that this law is overdue and commend the senate for their boldness and for resisting overtures from the enemies of our people to once more truncate their desire. TUC therefore demands that members of the House of Representatives and the presidency do justice to this injustice and save our oil bearing communities from total catastrophe attendant with oil production.â€