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PIB: Surveyors urge National Assembly to solve contentious areas 

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• Says Bill Expected To Reform Oil, Gas Sector, Fetch Govt More Revenue
• Faults Works Minister’s Proposal For Monthly Rent Collection

The Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) has urged the National Assembly to urgently iron out all contentious areas in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), and put finishing touches to it for President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent.

NIESV noted that the new bill offers a radical departure from past norms, as it would help to capture more of the country’s oil revenues, enabling to prosecute government infrastructural and developmental projects. 

Meanwhile, the Institution has faulted the proposal by the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, for monthly rent collection by property owners, arguing that government cannot control what it does not own. 

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Fashola had recently said multiple years’ rent collection has made affordable homes inaccessible to Nigerians, especially in the urban centres of Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, and Ibadan, among others. He wondered where people earning monthly salaries would get money to pay three-year rent advance.

Briefing journalists, yesterday, in Abuja, President and Chairman in Council of NIESV, Mr. Okas Wike, who commended the Federal Government for the political will to push the much-needed bill through, and for injecting some changes into it, observed that the crucial bill is expected to reform the oil and gas sector.

He said: “Making the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) a commercially oriented and profit-driven company, independent of government and to be audited yearly is a welcome development.

Undoubtedly, this would address corruption in the company and make it more efficient. There would be clarity, accountability and transparency in the administration of petroleum resources. New rules for environmental cleanups, new dispute-resolution mechanisms between government and oil companies, and a midstream government infrastructure fund will be constructive. These will help protect the environment and the host communities’ interest. Economic diversification will be supported and rapid development for the host communities will become feasible.” 

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Wike stated that with about 37 billion barrels of oil and 188 trillion cubic feet of gas, the largest in sub-Saharan Africa, it is sad that the sector has been bedeviled by poor management, bad leadership, monumental corruption, opaque licensing deals, sabotage, pipeline theft, and environmental degradation and NNPC, which manages the sector, has been accused of inefficiency, collaboration, aiding and abetting graft and sharp practices.”

He stated that Buhari is expected to assent the bill, as soon as the grey areas, particularly the contentious issue of the amount the host communities can claim from companies, are fine-tuned by the legislators.

“Efforts by successive administrations to address and redress the ugly development through one form of reform or the other, particularly in the last 20 years have failed flatly,” he said. “It is, therefore, a credit to the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, which in September 2020 sent the recently passed PIB to the National Assembly for consideration. And by this singular act, the government has succeeded in leaving behind a good legacy, and a good foundation for successive administrations to build on. 

“We have always believed in Public-Private Partnership (PPP) as a better way of getting policies implemented and projects executed. Not only that, conducive business environment for petroleum operations will be achieved, and international and indigenous petroleum companies will thrive better under a commercially oriented national petroleum company regime.”

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The NIESV president said the passage of PIB provides significant political victory for Nigeria, while sending a strong message to international investors that the country is at the dawn of a new era. He urged government to muster enough political will to implement the bill to the letter.

On the proposal for monthly rent collection, Wike said: “… As a major stakeholder in the housing sector, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers view the Minister’s suggestion from a different perspective. The Institution intends to visit him as soon as possible to deliberate and harmonise positions on the matter. We wish to reaffirm the importance of data in addressing housing provision. Data is a priority of the Institution.

“Presently, we are updating the data we earlier produced on the Nigerian Housing sector of which a copy was given to the Minister at our 49th Annual Conference of 2019 in Lagos. No doubt, data produced by the Institution would be reliable and acceptable to players in the real estate sector.

Additionally, the Institution shall endeavour to undertake the enumeration of wasting and abandoned properties, some of which belong to government at various levels, with recommendations on what could be done with them.” 

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