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Buhari to sign PIGB soon, Ajumogobia cautions over discretionary powers

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President Muhammadu Buhari may sign the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) on August1, 2018.

The Guardian learnt yesterday in Abuja that the move was to send signals to the international community that Nigeria is now ready for business, and halt the relocation of oil and gas investments to other parts of Africa.

At a roundtable in Abuja yesterday on the Petroleum Industry Bill, organised by the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC), a former Director of Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Olsten Olorunsola, said: “A lot of work is going into the bill. The journey to signing the bill cannot be too long anymore.”

Olorunsola said Nigeria had lost about $150 billion investment in the past 10 years owing to the non-passage of Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

He revealed that the National Assembly would soon repeal the 13 percent derivation which is in section 162 (2), eight percent littoral states funds, Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC) Act, Ministry of Niger Delta and Amnesty Programme, among others, to pave the way for signing of the Revenue Management Bill into law.

“The question we have always asked is: why, with the plethora of agencies and ministries government has put in place, resources are not getting to the communities in the Niger Delta?

That is the reason we must get a policy that will ensure that the resources get to the people by enacting a law that will ensure the people at the grassroots get what is meant for them.

“Efforts are ongoing by the National Assembly to pass the Revenue Management Bill.

The reason the bill on revenue management aspect of the PIB cannot proceed is because of the constitutional provisions we have presently.

The bill will be reintroduced once the required constitutional amendment is made,” Olorunsola said.

The former DPR director also explained that the concept of host community has been expanded beyond the community where oil is drilled to include all communities that host petroleum installations such as refineries.

Olorunisola urged Nigeria to take practical step towards diversifying her economy, saying if Saudi Arabia could plan about $500 billion to diversify her economic base, Nigeria should have no excuse not to move quickly to diversify her economy.

He also revealed that the government has issued licence to private refineries that have the capacity to refine 2.8million barrels per day.

Former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Odein Ajumogobia, raised the alarm that discretionary powers exist in the PIGB which could be subjected to abuse when the law becomes operational.

He said: “The implementation of the PIGB should be driven by integrity.

There is the presence of discretionary powers in the PIGB that the commission can take.

We all know that there is a commission but abuse can still happen if there are provisions that allow discretionary decision-making.”

An energy industry operator who spoke to The Guardian in Abuja said: “I can confirm that President Buhari will sign the PIGB on Wednesday, 1st August 2018 barring any unforeseen circumstances.

The signing will signify the readiness of Nigeria to curb exportation of investments to other parts of the continent because of absence of governance structure to guide our petroleum sector.

There are a number of African countries that took our PIB, domesticated it and passed it within a few years.

There is no excuse that we have worked on the PIB for 18 years without success and the President is equally determined to reverse this situation.”

Meanwhile, stakeholders, mainly from the northern part of the country, have urged President Buhari to sign the PIGB into law.

They also admonished the National Assembly to pass the Petroleum Host and Impacted Communities Development Bill (PHICDB) as well as the two other components of the PIB before the end of the current 8th assembly.

The stakeholders made these demands in a statement issued at the end of a one-day Host Community (HostCom) colloquium organized by OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative in Abuja.

The event was chaired by the Chief Whip of the House of Representatives and Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee on PIB, Alhassan Doguwa, while the statement was signed by Executive Director of OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative, Oke Epia.

While acknowledging the “urgent need to fill the existing lacuna in the law which has left host and impacted communities short-changed over the years,” the stakeholders described the PHICDB as “a step in the right direction” in spite of observed inadequacies in the document.

The stakeholders stressed the need for communities to “have a sense of shared ownership and prosperity as well as shared obligation for the protection of facilities.”

They called for “increased advocacy by the media, civil society and the general citizenry to get the pending bills passed and for the general industry reforms to be completed irrespective of the convenience of the political class as it relates to the electoral cycle.”

The stakeholders were drawn from the legislature, academia, civil society and community-based organizations in Kaduna, Gombe, Zamfara, Plateau, Niger and Adamawa states. Participants include industry experts, operators, security agencies and the media.


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