By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – THE Presidency on Wednesday said that the harmonised Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) by the National Assembly on March 28, was yet to get to the desk of President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.
This is as the Senator representing Cross River South, Chief Gershom Bassey has lamented that Nigeria loses $15bn over non passage of PIB
Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, in a two paragraph statement dated May 16, 2018 and made available to State House correspondents, said his findings revealed that the Bill was still undergoing standard operating legislative processes of the National Assembly preparatory to transmission.
He said, “Further to several enquiries by the media, interest groups, and the public in respect of within named Bill, may I please state that the said Bill has not yet been transmitted by the National Assembly to President.
“From my enquiries, the Bill is still undergoing standard operating legislative processes of the National Assembly preparatory to transmission, please.”
The senate committee chairman on petroleum resources (upstream), Omotayo Alasoadura, had promised that the harmonised bill would be presented to Buhari on March 30.
The initial delay was thought to have been caused by the fact that March 30 coincided with Good Friday during which Buhari was in Lagos state for an official visit.
The Bill is expected to instill best global practice in the oil industry.
Recall that the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum, Upstream, Senator Gershom Bassey had recently explained that lack of reforms and non passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, have caused the country to lose $15 billion annually in investments.
Senator Bassey stated this when he led a team of subcommittee of the National Assembly on Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, to pay a courtesy visit to the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu in Akure, the state capital.
He told their host that due to obsolete Policies, Practices, laws and regulations, a new reform of the sector which commenced in 2000, was expected to take the sector to greater heights and ensure that Nigeria manages her petroleum resources in line with global best practices.
The Team Leader in a statement he sent to Vanguard stated that one of the novel initiatives to successfully reform the petroleum industry was the need to split the omnibus PIB into four logical pieces of bills.
According to him, “In the passage of the PIB as well as the lack of the much needed reforms over the last decade have created a climate of uncertainty in Nigeria’s petroleum sector which has not been conducive in attracting further investments.
“As we are aware, Nigeria is Africa’s largest Oil and Gas producers and the Petroleum Sector has long suffered from frequent scandals, mismanagement and lack of coherent guidelines and regulations.
“The commercial exploitation of hydrocarbons in Nigeria is about six decades over which period, the sector has witnessed several formal and informal reforms, progressively evolving from passive participation of Nigerians to prominent indigenous players.
“In March 2018, the Petroleum Governance Bill (PIGB), the first of the four Bills fully passed through both Houses of the National Assembly and now with the President for assent.
“The remaining three Bills; Petroleum Industry Administration Bill (PIAB), Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill (PIFB) and the Petroleum Host Communities Bill (PHCB), complement the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) to ensure holistic reform of the petroleum industry.”
He explained that the PIAB explained how the industry ought to be managed in great detail, ensuring that licencing provisions, as well as ensuring that the sector operates with the greatest ease of doing business.
He said, “The PIFB ensures that the country is fiscally competitive, in particular, to attract the much needed capital for development and growth.
“The PHCB on its own, is created for the development and management of communities that host petroleum operations and facilities to ensure fair returns to all stakeholders as well as guarantee peaceful co-existence with operators.”
Senator Bassey however hinted that it was in the light of this, that the Senate Joint Committee on PIB decided to set aside some days to visit Oil Producing Areas/Host Communities to discuss with the Chief Executive of of the state, Stakeholders and Host Communities to access on the spot, the progress level impacted on the host communities.
Responding, the Ondo State Governor, Akeredolu, expressed delight at the latest move by the Federal Government to integrate repentant militants into the amnesty programme.
The Governor said he heaved a sigh of relief when the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo during his recent visit to the state informed him that he had directed the amnesty office to urgently take prompt action on the integration of militants who recently laid down their arms in Ondo State.
Noting that the integration of the militants into the amnesty programme was overdue, he said the restiveness in the oil producing areas were consequent upon lack of care for both the people and communities in the area by the oil prospecting companies.
He said, “During his recent visit to Ondo State, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo informed me that he had directed the amnesty office to urgently take prompt action on the integration of militants who recently laid down their arms in Ondo State.
“These militants felt that they were left out, which probably led to agitations, kidnap and others.
“We told them to lay down their arms and promised to integrate them into the amnesty programme, which they accepted and laid down their arms, it’s a bargain which must be kept.”