By Clara Nwachukwu
BENIN — Given the peculiarities of the Nigerian environment, the Federal Government and the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, have been cautioned to tread softly in adopting foreign structures for the ongoing reforms of the corporation.
A former Group Managing Director, GMD NNPC, Mr. Jackson Gaius-Obaseki, who issued the caution in his GRA, Benin City residence, argued that Nigeria should define the reforms based on its own experiences rather than adopting foreign schemes.
This is even as he insisted that the only way to make a head way with the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, is to remove the controversial fiscal proposals from the rest of the bill, in view of the uncertainty of the global environment.
Gaius-Obaseki, who marked his 70th birthday yesterday with a high mass celebration in his GRA Benin residence, told Vanguard in an exclusive interview that: “If you ask me, PIB is a good initiative, but I doubt whether it makes sense to put the fiscal in the main body of the bill. This is because the main body of the bill will be a matter of principles and policies, but the fiscals are so unstable and subject to change.
“Now that we’re having $140 to 40 (oil price), it can throw everything over board, but the minister can react for the moment. But when you put it into law, it means that government has to go through the process of amendment; and oil is not like that. You must change your fiscal if you want to sustain the climate, but if you have to go to the National Assembly to do that then God help you.”
With regard to the NNPC reform, he said: “What I know doesn’t work is when you try to carry a reform from the schemes of France, from America, from Europe, or wherever because the environment is completely different.”
PIB and fiscals
Speaking further on the PIB, Gaius-Obaseki noted that the bill had been stalled for so long because the promoters refused to do the right thing by engaging all stakeholders.
He recalled: “I have refused to make comments on it because those who put it together from the onset, I invited them privately even government didn’t know, I said: engage the players, not only the IOCs. This is because during my time under President Olusegun Obasanjo, we modified the terms of the PSCs (production sharing contracts).