NIGERIA’s general incompetence in managing its diversity has been at play in the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, saga.
Thirteen years after the late President Umaru Yar’Adua introduced it as a follow-up to his efforts to douse militancy in the Niger Delta, a second attempt at making it into law has exhibited a total miscarriage of its original objectives.
The interests of three major stakeholders are involved in the PIB. The first is the Federal Government representing the interests of the 36 states of the federation and the Nigerian people.
The second are the International Oil Companies, IOCs; while the third are the Host Communities. It is quite obvious that the interests of the Host Communities have been rough- handled. We have not adequately carried them along.
If anything, they have been made to feel like the natives of the conquered colony of a foreign power. This is callous and unacceptable.
There was agitation for the setting aside of at least 10 per cent of the profits of oil companies for the development of host communities. What we have, instead, is the approval of three per cent of the annual operational budgets of oil companies for that purpose. This is a drop in the ocean which we have already discountenanced.
The second and more provocative of the PIB’s provisions is that 30 per cent of the profits of the “unbundled” Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, will be dedicated to the exploration of “frontier” basins.
The Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, led by Chief Edwin Clark, correctly describes it as an “insult” to the Host Communities. It is like a colonial measure. The attitude that led to the jerking up of an earlier proposal of 10 per cent for that purpose to 30 per cent obviously did not care for the feelings of the Host Communities. This is undemocratic, unjust and unconscionable.
The NNPC, the Nigerian cash cow, has been made to part with billions of dollars for oil exploration in the North for decades. No one has made a courteous attempt to brief the nation on the total amount spent and progress made to justify further commitment of funds.
We expect an unbundled NNPC to commit more efforts to local refining to make petroleum products more available and affordable to Nigerians. We also expect the Federal Government to apply more efforts and funding to green energy.
The Host Communities should have their clamoured 10 per cent. We must move in the direction of resource control, not away from it. We should stop wasting the nation’s resources on sterile oilfields. To minimise restiveness in the Niger Delta, their interest must count in our oil-related policies.
We reject colonial attitudes to the Host Communities.