By Obas Esiedesa
ABUJA-THE Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) if passed into law will bring back investments into the sector in Nigeria and also address the issue of host communities’ rights in the country, stakeholders have said.
The Nigerian Senate yesterday began the process of passing the bill when it opened a 2-day public hearing. The House of Representatives has also scheduled a public hearing on the bill during the week.
The PIB which has been in the making for over 18 years is expected replace the Petroleum Act enacted in the 1969.
Speaking in a telephone interview, the Executive Director, Women in Extractives, Faith Nwadishi urged the National Assembly to pay special attention to the sections on host community rights and contract transparency.
According to her, it is important that the bill addresses the concerns of oil bearing communities, especially the protection of the environment.
Nwadishi pointed out that she expects “the National Assembly to deliver on their promise to give us a workable PIB. I am happy that they have started work on the bill with the public hearing. We hope that it is an exercise that will end in a new law. We have waited 20 years for this. We have had public hearings in the past and made presentations that did not lead to a new law”.
On the host and impacted community provisions, she added: “I hope that they pay particular attention to it and that they do not play politics with it because the plight of people who live in host communities over the years of oil exploitation in the country needs to be addressed. The negative impact and environmental issues needs to be addressed such that the people who are leaving within those areas are able to benefit from the proceeds of the oil industry.
“Secondly, particularly the provision in Section 83 for the contract transparency, that would help us to implement fully the requirement 2.4 of the EITI (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative) standard. You know that January 1, 2021 is the take off date for the implementation EITI contract transparency and if that section of the law is allowed to stay or even improved on, it will give us easy lading for the implementation of the standard”.
She said the PIB will boost investment climate in the industry and end the spate of divestments going on in the sector.
Also speaking on the PIB, energy expert, Henry Adigun said the PIB will incentivize the upstream and downstream boost the country’s revenue from the sector.
On his part, National Coordinator, Publish What You Pay (Nigeria), Mr. Peter Egbule who spoke from Lagos said he expects speedy passage of the bill given the length of time it has taken to get a new law for the sector.
Egbule noted that if passed, the PIB will make Nigeria an attractive investment destination amongst African countries.
He called on the National Assembly to pay special to sessions on impacted community, noting that the session would help end the incessant attacks on oil pipelines and facilities.
“One of the critical areas of concern which people are not paying attention to is the area of impacted communities. There are lots of clamour on host communities but there are also impacted communities.
“The host communities are where the oil fields and oil rigs are but then the transportation of the crude goes through pipes in other communities which are impacted by this. The adjacent communities need to be taken care of also if not there will be agitations, vandalisms and losses”, he added.