‘Non-passage of host community bill will repel investment in Niger Delta’
As the Senate last week passed the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), stakeholders in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector have criticised the non-passage of the Host Community Bill.
They emphasised the need for the Federal Government to urgently pass the bill that addresses host community issues to allow for peace and security in the Niger Delta, even as the Bill is yet to scale through the lower house of the National Assembly.
Already, the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) has rejected in totality the PIGB, describing it as insensitive. However, the Host Community Bill and Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill are at different stages of scrutiny at the National Assembly.
Other cluster bills still expected include: the Upstream Petroleum License and Lease Administration Bill as well as the Downstream Oil and Gas Administration Bill.
The Host Community Bill is aimed at addressing issues relating to community participation, security, and the ecological debt incurred by host communities from oil extraction.
Speaking with The Guardian, oil and gas analyst, Ifeanyi Izeze, said: “my position regarding the host communities, government should come up with the aspect of the original PIGB that addresses the concern of the Niger Delta communities.
“This is necessary to avoid attack on the investment that may spring up from the passage of the bill. I am not sure they have dropped the idea of host community issues, because this is necessary for investment in the Niger Delta.”
Izeze who commended the Senate for the passage of the bill, said it would boost investors’ confidence in the upstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry.
Bearing his thoughts to The Guardian on the passage of the PIGB, the chairman, Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN), Bank Anthony Okoroafor, said that maintenance of sanctity of the document is the key that will provide the industry the desired energy that it desperately needs.
He explained that PIGB provides for the governance and institutional framework for the petroleum industry and for other related matters. “We need the governance bill to setup the framework for the following as stated in the governance bill document, create efficient and effective governing institutions with clear and separate roles, establish a framework for the creation of commercially oriented and profit driven entities, promote transparency and accountability and finally foster a conducive business environment,” he added.
Okoroafor noted that by breaking the law into parts, the Senate has demonstrated thorough understanding of the issues that have hindered the passage of the bill for the past 17 years.
He argued that taking it in bits would reduce tension and make it possible for all critical stakeholders to buy-in. “The original PIB was cumbersome and there was no way that it could have passed,” he added.
Also, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) in a media statement signed by Director, Communications, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya, noted that the public outcry that greeted the failure of the last National Assembly to pass this important bill perhaps informed the current Senate’s resolve to revive legislative interest on the bill. This resulted in the milestone recorded at the moment.
He said the decision of the Senate to consider the bill as priority resulting in its passage is not only legendary, but historic, given the challenges the bill had passed through in its legislative journey for almost two decades.
Ogbonnaya hoped that with the prospects of a new Law coming in to place, the huge revenue losses to the nation as a result of governance lapses will be eliminated
He said NEITI as an agency set up to enthrone transparency and accountability in the management of extractive industries in Nigeria, has legitimate interest in the PIGB in view of its strategic importance to the realisation of its mandate.
The statement read in part: “NEITI therefore calls on the House of Representatives to find similar courage to give the bill an accelerated consideration on its merit in overriding public interest.
“NEITI recalls that the passage of the bill is coming more than 17 years after the process commenced in April 2000.
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