Following the outcome of the Presidential Election, which returned President Muhammadu Buhari to Aso Rock, BudgIT has called on the Buhari government to assign a higher priority to oil and gas sector reforms in the second phase of the administration.
Recall that President Buhari rejected last August the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) passed by the National Assembly after 16 years of back and forth. Needless to reiterate, the PIGB would liberalise the governance structure of the oil industry, strengthen institutions and entrench transparency. For these critical reforms, we ask that the Bill should be reconsidered.
Also demanding dire attention is the issue of beneficial ownership. BudgIT notes that a lot of oil companies seem to operate under fake identities. A lasting example is the case of Malabu Oil Scandal in which Dan Etete, petroleum minister under the Abacha regime, acquired “OPL 245” through Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, a camouflage of his personal company, to perpetuate one of the biggest frauds in the history of Nigeria’s oil sector.
Besides, our analysis of NEITI’s last audit report revealed: Losses arising from crude oil theft and sabotage in the upstream and downstream sectors amounted to $869.02 million and $3.55 billion respectively in 2016. “If properly structured back into the economy, the whopping amount that goes down the drain, courtesy of these lapses, will go a long way in contributing to the economic recovery and growth plan of the government,” noted Gabriel Okeowo, BudgIT’s principal lead.
Lack of transparency and accountability remains the biggest challenge in the oil and gas sector. To solve this, ensuring capacity building as well as the development of effective business models that are profit-driven, calls for decisive reforms can no longer be ignored. More so, we strongly believe that the reforms will go a long way in enhancing good governance and processes that are flexible to the peculiarities of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.