September 3, 2021

Issa Aemu describes controversies over PIA as healthy

Issa Aemu describes controversies over PIA as healthy

Comrade Issa Aremu

By Victor Ahiuma-Young

The Director-General/Chief Executive Officer, CEO, Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies, MINILS, Issa Aremu, has said that the controversies trailing the the much-awaited Petroleum Industry Act, PIA, signed by President Muhammadu Buhari are healthy.

He described the law as “a singular historic transformational legislation in public corporate governance” since the return of the country to democracy in 1999.

Aremu spoke at the opening of a three-day workshop on Strategic Leadership Skills for Trade Unionists drawn from Petroleum Equalisation Fund, PEF, across the nation.

President Buhari had, on August 16, signed the PIB into law following its passage by both the 9th Senate and the House of Representatives in July.

READ ALSO: MINILS DG, Issa Aremu calls for urgent reform in health sector to end incessant strike

Recalling that the subsisting law regulating the petroleum industry was passed in 1969, Aremu observed that it was the commitment and focus of President Buhari that made the enactment of the hitherto impossible legislative framework a reality, despite outstanding challenges associated with the new law.

According to him, the new act had introduced “timely pertinent changes to the governance, administrative, the regulatory and fiscal framework of the Nigerian Petroleum Industry adding that PIA would promote transparency, strengthen the governing institutions and attract investment capital, and create new jobs”.

Aremu described as “healthy” the current controversies over the perceived imperfections of the new law with respect to the host community’s take and Frontier Exploration Fund, adding that any developmentalist law is “legislative work in progress”.

“It’s good to jaw jaw on development and transformation which PIA law represents than the unhelpful shouting discordant voices over divisions and violence of no value.

“President Buhari has commendably changed the national narrative in the positive direction of development by signing PIB into law.”

He noted that the signing of PIA on the eve of the 60th anniversary of independence assumed special importance because “PIA would moderate the unacceptable dominance of the petroleum industry by the international oil companies, IOCs.

“It will also make Nigeria and Nigerians dictate the pace and pattern of the development of the industry according to the objectives of the new National Development Agenda 2050.

“If we add the recent bold move to reactivate Port Harcourt Refinery, landmark 2019 historic assent to the Bill amending the Deep Offshore (and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract) Act, which commendably balanced the corporate greed in oil and gas sector with urgent national needs in terms of revenue,  posterity would record it that President Buhari is championing petroleum sector development renaissance after decades of neglect.”

On critical labour issues associated with the new Petroleum law, Aremu called for “a just transition” for a gradual sector reform such “that companies operating in the Nigerian Oil and Gas industry comply with all international labour conventions ratified by Nigeria; the collective agreements with the labour unions and the extant labour laws as a minimum in all their dealings with the Nigerian workers and their representatives”.

He called for engagement between Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association, PENGASSAN and Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG and government.

“Proper arrangements be made that the liabilities of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and other agencies to their staff, such as pensions to retired and existing employees, are adequately provided for prior to the effective commencement date of the PIA,” he added.

The Director-General disclosed that arrangement had been concluded to popularise the new Petroleum Act among the sector stakeholders.

Vanguard News Nigeria