Stakeholders point out loopholes in PIGB, presidency assures of speedy assent
Indications have emerged that the Petroleum Host and Impacted Communities Development Bill (PHICDB) being debated at the National Assembly may not achieve its desired objectives if adequate attention was not paid to the loopholes in the document.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja at a meeting organised by the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD), the stakeholders said the Federal Government should avoid worsening the country’s situation with the bill.
The meeting focused on legislative mechanism to improve environmental management and help local communities maximise benefits from oil extraction in the Niger Delta region.
Speaking, Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammdu Buhari on Niger Delta Matters, Edobor Iyamu, insisted that the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) would be signed as soon as the President received the document.
However, stakeholders at the event stated that except all the other aspects of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIG) were accommodated in the law, the sector would continue to experience challenges.
Iyamu said the executive was committed to the passage of the bills to ensure that the country’s oil and gas sector was sanitised, particularly the activities of oil companies and their relationship with impacted communities.
Also speaking, Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Port Harcourt, Professor Ibibia Worika, noted that empowering the proposed regulatory body through the PHICDB could undermine environmental challenges in the Niger Delta and the sector.
“What this bill has done is to vest the regulation of environmental assets on the petroleum regulatory commission and one would have thought it would do this in consultation with the Federal Ministry of Environment, which traditionally deals with the environment and all its aspect, but it does not do that,” he said.
He insisted that if the bill was passed as it is, the future of the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) would be jeopardised.
Special Adviser (Policy & Regulation) to the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Joe Nwakwue, noted that the challenges plaguing the sector remained unacceptable, saying government should ensure that the PIB was passed to address age-long challenges in the sector.
He added that if all the loopholes in PHICDB were addressed, its passage and assent would sustain shared prosperity among host and impacted communities, as well as boost productivity in the oil and gas sector.
Nwakwue stressed that the proposed legislation should address the questions of ownership and participation surrounding use of royalty, equity participation and less external involvement.
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