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Upstream oil workers petition N/A over PIB

By Victor Ahiuma-Young
ORGANISED labour in the nation’s upstream sector of the petroleum industry, has petitioned the National Assembly over the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) now before the lawmakers, recommending among others, that the proposed Integrated Joint Venture Companies (IJVs) should include host communities in the owner structures similar to the Eleme/Indorama Petrochemical ownership model and the Solid mineral act both of which have specific and defined provisions for community participation.

In a petition to  Chairman and Members,  National Assembly Joint Committee on the Petroleum Industry Bill, the workers under the umbrella of Producers’ Forum, noted that one of the lessons of the Niger Delta crisis is that host communities do not see themselves as having any stake in the industry, arguing that, apart from PIB recognition and equity participation of host communities, certain percentage of workforce should also be reserved for the host communities.

The petition by Comrades Victor Olley and  Peter O. Akpenka, Chairman and Secretary respectively, read in part: “The bill lacks definite provisions for Community participation and ownership in the business.

That lessons learnt from the recent insecurity in the Niger Delta should not be ignored in this season of amnesty and seeming peace. One of the lessons of the Niger Delta crisis is that host communities do not see themselves as having any stake in the industry. Therefore the bill apart from the recognition and equity participation of host and impacted communities in the bill, a certain percentage of workforce should also be reserved for the host/impacted communities in order to buy their genuine participation, stake and ownership. The bill should specifically recommend  that the Memorandum of understanding (MOUs) of the proposed IJVs should include communities in the owner structures similar to the Eleme/Indorama Petrochemical ownership model and the Solid mineral Act both of which have specific and defined provisions for community participation.

The Forum recommends that the bill should specifically state that the MOU(s) of the proposed IJVs should include communities in the ownerhip  structures similar to the Eleme/Indorama Petrochemical ownership model and the Solid mineral act both of which have specific and defined provisions for community participation.”

“The Success of the PIB shall be measured largely by the increased industrial activity in the oil and gas downstream processing sector, followed by the sustained or increased capacity in the upstream sector. However, this bill when passed, will like previous bills, depend on other supporting laws to succeed. One of such bills that ought to come into force before this transition is the Freedom of Information bill (FOI), which unfortunately may end up attaining the record of the longest, or most delayed bill in the National Assembly.

A transparent environment backed by law will ensure that processes and businesses are not only transparent but that information about the integrity of the process shall be made accessible. This will further promote corporate and individual trust among stakeholders and attract/encourage potential investors to the industry.  Access to information must not be limited to a few institutions especially in a deregulated economy, which Nigeria is gradually becoming.

Put this side by side with the recent scandals resulting from allegations of missing funds totalling millions of dollars in the oil sector, the passage of the FOI bill is all the more a must do.  Do we need an anti-trust law? The Producers forum believes strongly that the nation also needs an anti trust law now; perhaps one fashioned after the USA model”.


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