By Prince Okafor
The Senate and House of Representatives have finally harmonised the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, PIGB, for President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent March 28, 2018.
This is even as Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources, Upstream, Omotayo Alasoadura, has stated that the PIGB was a subset of the PIB and that the National Assembly was in receipt of three new bills, namely: Host Community Bill, Administration Bill and Fiscal Bill.
Speaking during the maiden edition of Energie Platform Lecture, entitled, “The role of the PIGB in sustaining the Joint Ventures cash call exit agreement.” in Lagos, he said: “On Wednesday, March 28, 2018, the PIGB will be taken to the Senate and the House of Representatives and passed into law by the two chambers simultaneously. And two days after, that bill will be committed to the President of Nigeria for is assent.
“We know he has only 30 days to say yes or no, but I know since Legislature and Executive worked that this bill gets to where we are, I do not think he will decline assent to the bill. The three new bills, when passed into law, will complete the circle of what was known as PIB in the past.”
He noted that the PIGB, as of now, had not been completely passed.
“The Senate passed its own in May 2017 and the Reps passed their last month. What we call a conference committee in the NASS has been set up to look at areas of differences between the two legislative arms.”
Also, former Director of Department of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Osten Olorunsola, stated: “There are four bill, there are supposed to be five, the fifth one is what they called the Petroleum Revenue Management Bill, which we have to drop at some point in time because revenue allocation in Nigeria is a constitutional matter.
‘’There is no bill that can override the constitution, so we dropped it. Hopefully, the NASS will look at that someday.
“The fours, the simplest way I try to describe them, the governance is like the foundation of the building, it lays the foundation for a better industry, removal of all opaqueness, clarity of roads, institutions and efficiency in the industry.
“The Fiscal Bill is one of the pillars, as soon as you finish the foundation, you put on the pillars. One of them is the fiscal bill, the other bill is the Administration and the roof is the Host Community Bill. Ultimately, we need all the four bills to make the sector work efficiently.
“We have been on this journey for at least nine years; the first PIB came out in 2008. Between the periods, I know so many other countries that have used our own documents as template, including Ghana.
‘’The bill is fully market-driven, therefore, all these talk about subsidy or no subsidy, all this opaqueness will go away, and that’s what we submitted last Thursday.”
He reiterated that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, was not supposed to be using policy statement, adding that the Minister was also not supposed to be talking about commercial, sometimes, even DPR which is supposed to be the regulator, is the one going behind NNPC.
“No, DPR shouldn’t be behind, you should be in the front because you are the regulator of the industry, and that’s the kind of strength we have actually built into these bills to actually state things clearly.’’