By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Mallam Awal Ibrahim famously known in the world of Nigerian civil society as Rafsanjani after the late Iranian president, Hojatoloislam Akbar Ali Rafsanjani, was in his elements last Wednesday.
Years after many of his colleagues in the world of genuine activism have laid aside the struggle into more comfortable and rewarding endeavours, Rafsanjani brought his activism to Vanguard Corporate office in Lagos. In years gone, Rafsanjani laid siege against dictators in the fight to entrench democracy in the country.
Rafsanjani, executive director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), however, had a less confrontational agenda in Vanguard. Accompanied by some other CISLAC officials, they were in Vanguard to project the Petroleum Governance Industry Bill, PIGB, a bill that just passed through the House penultimate week.
He was accompanied by Kolawole Banwo, a senior programme officer at CISLAC, Onyekachi Eke, media officer at CISLAC and Fisayo Ajala, a researcher at Spaces for Change, S4C.
The delegation was received by Mr. Eze Anaba and Mr. Adekunle Adekoya, editor and deputy editor respectively.
Giving reasons why the PIGB must be advanced to enactment, Rafsanjani said:
“Since the beginning of democracy we have been talking of oil sector reform, and unfortunately those who do not wish Nigeria well have always crushed this idea because they do not want any transparent process, they do not want to ensure that we have an efficient oil sector to be mined transparently.
“Last year the Senate passed the PIGB and we thought that it is necessary that if we really want to reform that sector to ensure that we have maximum utilisation of this resource that God has given this country and also to ensure transparent management of it also to ensure that the proceeds are also put into proper management that we must have this Petroleum Industry Governance Bill.
“However, the other components that have to do with fiscal issues have not yet been passed. So we have decided on a media sensitisation so that the National Assembly passes the bill because by the end of the third quarter we may not get their attention as they will be busy trying to get re-election ticket. Meanwhile, the national economy suffers. The scam in the so-called oil subsidy is a result of unclear policy and legislation guiding the petroleum sector.
“So it is important that we put pressure on the legislature let them pass this bill so that Nigeria and even the environment where this oil is coming from can be cleaned because as it is now, too much pollution is going on there, a lot of damage has been done, and the people have even lost hope in the Nigerian state, because now and then, it is the same story.
“We want to see how we can take advantage of the remaining days that they have for active legislative work for them to be able to pass this bill.”
Vanguard editor, Anaba, was quick to commend the efforts of CISLAC in promoting the advancement of the PIGB. He also saluted Rafsanjani on his consistency in the civil society space noting that many strangers have entered the movement for pecuniary gains. He affirmed that Vanguard would support the efforts towards enacting the proposed legislation.