By Charles Kumolu
A FORMER Minister of Petroleum Resources,Â Professor Tam David West has alleged that there are people from the Northern part of Nigeria, who do not want the oil producing communities to benefit from the proposed Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB.
He also debunked claims that the North is marginalising the South, saying that southerners are responsible for the fate of the region.
The former minister, who disclosed this in a chat with SaturdayVanguard, lampooned elected public officer holdersÂ from oil producing states, for the absence of focus and unity among them.
According to him, â€œThe fundamental thing about the bill is Northern xenophobia. They are xenophobic about it. I am putting my honour to it to say that Lukman and Aminu has secret agendas. That is why they have xenophobia against anything that is coming to the South.
â€œ Lukman has a particular problem while Aminuâ€™s is about allocation of oil blocks. I have worked with them and I know them very well. The basic thing is that the PIB should not be reported as if it is isolated. It should be looked at holistically.
â€œWhen people are xenophobic, they become scared that a particular section will overtake them. It is a northern thing.â€
While lamenting that the Southern leaders created the alleged marginalisation of the region, he disclosed that the strength of the north is the weakness of the South.
â€œYes, they are part of our problems.. They donâ€™t have programmes and focus. All they do is to call press conference and make noise on the pages of newspapers. These people are not united and that is why they have not been able to properly represent the region.
Continuing, he said, â€œSo, when people say that the North is marginalising the South, I laugh because the South is marginalising itself. My friend, look, the strength of the North is the weakness of the South. I admire the north for its strength of purpose and unity. for the South, I see them like the tower of Babel.â€
August 14, 2009
For Engr.Alex Nenyim. the bill would be the best thing to happen to the industry, if things are done properly, even as he restated the need for royalties to be paid to oil producing communities.
â€œWell my view is very simple. We may not succeed the way we are doing things now. There is no way that royalties can not be paid to the oil producing communities. They deserve the royalties because the wealth comes from their communities.â€
Giving example of how problems arising from oil exploration have been solved in other climes, he disclosed that payment of royalties was instrumental to the defeat of kidnaping in Bolivia.
According to the oil expert, whose company is a major player in the upstream sector, â€œBolivia was very notorious when it comes to kidnaping. That country recorded the highest rate of kidnaping then. But at a time the government realised that for the kidnaping to be stopped, royalties must be payed to the oil producing area.
â€œThey realised that they have to put money back into the communities. That is why the best developed areas in Bolivia are the oil producing areas. So the bill will not be complete without royalties.â€
He however declared that there are certain aspects of the bill that are good, but insisted that the right thing should be done in order to make the bill a success.
â€œThere are certain aspects of the bill that is good. But I will say that the NNPC does not have the capable manpower to check the expenditures of some companies. And having such manpower to do that will make the industry better. You cant bring a fresh engineer and call him an oil man. The joint venture setting should be properly done,â€ he argued.
Continuing, he said, â€œThe sixty percent and forty percent arrangement should be well defined. How can you expect someone who controls forty percent to still be the operator. As a matter of fact the government pays the operating cost which they donâ€™t know.â€
While stressing on the need to address all issues about the bill as typical business, he called on the government to encourage the establishment of refineries.
â€œThere is need to change the whole scenario and run it like a typical business. The government should make sure that we refine our petroleum products here. That saves cost and generates much revenue for the government than refining abroad. Individuals should also be allowed to build refineries.; This is a sure way of making the industry better. We must make sure that we produce, refine and export. But a situation where our lives are dependent on importation of refined fuel is bad,â€ he stated.
He nonetheless, revealed that there are some people lobbying against the bill for individual or group interests, but insisted that the bill is necessary for the industry.
â€œThere are people lobbying against the bill. Like NNPC for example, they may not want it because it will not be business as usual if the bill is finally passed into law. But people like Lukman(Oil Minister) wants the bill. So, we need to get things right on that bill. If things are properly done, it will mean well for the industry,â€ Nenyim , who hails from one of the oil producing states, submitted.
For the Secretary General of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Mr Elijah Okugbo, most stakeholders in the industry are not being carried along, even as he added that it makes mockery of the bill.
Okugbo, who relented to speak when VF sought his views. He is sad that as at the time his position was being sought, he is yet to receive the recommendations that were arrived at during the public hearing.
â€œWell I am not supposed to make a categorical statement because my boss was at the hearing in Abuja. Even till this moment, we are yet to receive the final paper on it,â€ he fumed, queering that, â€œSo how can we make our position known?â€
The NUPENG scribe, however, bared his mind on some salient aspects of the bill.
â€œIf I am to make my position know, I will stand by the decision of the South-South Governors, who argued that the bill is not favorable to oil producing communities. you can not talk about the bill without properly addressing the issue of royalty. Royalties must be given to these communities,â€ he added.
For Mr. Nelson Iginawari, wether the PIB would be successful or not, depends on how good crisis in the Niger Delta is addressed.
Iginawari, who is the President of Niger Delta Prosperity Vanguard,NDPV, argued that the overwhelming need of the oil producing communities must be accommodated in the bill, even as he added that PIB might solve some of oil problems holding Nigeria down.
â€œWhether the law will sail through, depends on contending interests on it. Do you think all the players in that sector wants it. But my uppermost concern is the condition of the people in the creeks, especially physical and human development.â€
He further said, â€œ I believe to some extent, the bill will address issues like fight over who controls oil revenues and the question of a region benefitting at the expense of the oil producing areas.Â That, I believe will define the aspect of fiscal federalism. But the way these people are going, I am sacred that some interest may work against it.â€
Sounding emotional against the backdrop of his believe that the PIB might be hijacked, Igeniwari said, â€œThe leaders of this country as well as investors in the oil and gas industry should for once concentrate on the progress of Nigeria as well as its benefit as a nation because a country at peace with itself would yield more, not only to itself, but also to investors alike.Â The success of this bill could either make or mar this country for good, and posterity will surely judge every single participant, no matter at what capacity, in the actualisation of this bill.â€
Iraqi oil law at a glance
In 2007 the Iraqi cabinet approved a draft of a lawÂ that would set guidelines for countrywide distribution of oil revenues and foreign investment in the immense oil industry.
The endorsement marked a major agreement among the countryâ€™s ethnic and sectarian political blocs on one of Iraqâ€™s most divisive issues.
The draft law approved by the cabinet allows the central government to distribute oil revenues to the provinces or regions by population, which could lessen the economic concerns of the rebellious Sunni Arabs, who fear being cut out of Iraqâ€™s vast potential oil wealth by the dominant Shiites and Kurds.
The law also gives regional oil companies the power to sign contracts with foreign companies for exploration and development of fields, opening the door for investment by foreign oil companies in a country whose oil reserves rank among the worldâ€™s top three in size.
Iraq has 80 known fields, 65 of which will be offered up for bids for development contracts.
The drafters of the law reached agreement on the principle of revenue-sharing fairly early in the process. Much more contentious was the issue of signing oil contracts. The Kurds, who have enjoyed de facto independence in the mountainous north since the Gulf war ended in 1991, argued strongly for regional governments to have full power in signing contracts with companies to develop oil fields. Sunni Arab leaders insisted on keeping this power in the hands of the Oil Ministry, and the Shiites fell somewhere in the middle.
what have I said on that I have not said before. The thing that bothers me is that people donâ€™t go deep when they are reporting issues like thi. In 1995 when Abacha created the Kaduna petroleum college, when I was speaking against it, who supported me? I was a lone voice on it. That contributes to where we are today. I was not helped when I was opposing it. The fundamental thing about the bill is Northern xenophobia. They are xhenophobvic about it. I am putting my honou to it to say that Lukman and Aminu has secret agendas. That is why they have xhenophobian against anything that is coming to the South. Luckman has a particular problem while Aminuâ€™s is about allocation of oil blocks. I have worked with them and I know them very well. The basic thing is that the PBI should not be reported as if it is isolated. It should be looked at holistically. When people are xenophobic, they become scared that a particular section will overtake them. It is a northern thing. But the worst is Aminu and Lukman.
c. Zik and Awolowo going to fight in the theratre Let me quote shakepare, â€œit is not in the stars to hold our destinyÂ but in ourselvesâ€. The gorvernors are like cheap commodities that can be bought.
My cousin, Ajumogobia and others are there. Lukman made them to be dancing around him. They just allowed them to be playing with the South.. Some of us who see Nigeria as one are not fools. The north is not marginalising us but we the south. We are cheap commodities and lazy people.Â We still have some Northerners who donâ€™t have this xhnenophobic idea. I am talking about people like Buhari and Abubakara dangiwa Umar. But I m still saying it that Aminu and Luckman has secret agenda Aminu once put up a programme on nomadic education, I am an Ijaw and I have never heard about a prograamme for Ijaw fishermen. Has anybody questioned the reason why he put up the programme. But when it comes to the south they bring injustice into it. The bill is the least of Nigeriaâ€™s problems. So, this bill is not the issue. The foundamental issue is fiscal federalism. But the peopele championing it are liers. The basic issue is justice. The bill should undo the injustice of the past and present. We are not practicising federalism. we are lying to ourselves and the outside world that we are practising it, but we are not. Injustice does not reign supreme in a true federal state. When we have true federalism, the bill can take care of itself. If we cant practice true federalism, let us split and have a confederation.
For we southreners, we remain the obatcle to the development of the south because of absence of sincerity and focus. If