The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has alerted the nation that time is running out over Nigeria’s inability to put in place the necessary laws required to fix the numerous governance problems confronting the oil and gas sector.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr. Waziri Adio stated this in Abuja at the opening of a Symposium to set the agenda on the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly and awaiting harmonization.
Mr. Adio identified the protracted delays in passing these laws as responsible for the uncertainties and stagnation of investment opportunities in the sector.
“NEITI published a policy brief in October 2016, entitled “The Urgency of a New Petroleum Sector Law.” The paper estimated the cost of business uncertainty, lack of clarity and adequate transparency mechanism in eight years at more than $200bn. The paper showed how Nigeria is increasingly in competition for oil and gas investment with many other African countries, not to talk of other jurisdictions.”Mr. Adio stated.
The Executive Secretary explained that the motive for convening the symposium is to discuss what needs to be done and urgently too to build on the successes recorded so far by the passage of the PIGB by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
“Now that we are hopefully close to the end of these circuitous journeys, it is important for us to focus on the next tasks in a way that will proactively and strategically ensure that the intentions of the proposed laws are fully realized; that we have not undertaken the long journey in vain”. Adio Remarked.
In a message, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Emmanuel IbeKachikwu underlined the importance of early passage of the relevant laws required to reposition the sector in view of the strategic implications towards increasing revenue generation, inflow of investments, job creation and improved governance of the industry.
“The long – held aspiration of the Nigeria Upstream Sector is to grow crude oil reserves to 40 billion barrels and production to 4 million barrels of oil per day (bopd), improving local content, maximizing sectors value and most importantly derive as much revenues from oil and gas. One of such needed reforms is to overhaul the multiple laws governing exploration and production and help Nigeria reach this goal”.Kachikwu further remarked.
The Minister who was represented by the Senior Technical Assistant, Engr. Johnson Awoyomi stated that comments on the PIGB at this moment would be premature since the bill is yet to secure presidential approval. He however stressed the importance of giving similar attention to the other bills that will address the financial, administrative and host community issues bedeviling the sector.
“Now is the time to tweak the existing laws and come up with a new legal, institutional, commercial framework that will liberalize the petroleum industry as well as create a competitive business environment that will enhance Nigeria’s revenue” Kachikwu noted.
In his speech the Group Managing Director (GMD) of NNPC Dr. Maikanti Baru explained that the NNPC awaits presidential assent on the PIGB and will comply fully when it becomes law.“We are delighted that the PIGB will provide the petroleum industry an enabling environment to be able to institutionalize best practices for effective and efficient operations of our industry. The GMD said.
The GMD who was represented by the Group General Manager, Corporate Planning and Strategy, Mr. Bala Wunti identified four areas as priority of the Corporation. These include protection of Nigeria’s national interest, opening up NNPC operations to public scrutiny, compliance to existing laws and driving the Corporation on the part of profitability.
Meanwhile industry experts at the Symposium drawn from companies, governments, civil society and the media called for urgent measures to ensure that the PIGB passed by the National Assembly secures presidential assent.During the interactive session, Stakeholders urged the National Assembly to accord similar accelerated hearing to the remaining Bills to comprehensively reform Nigeria’s petroleum industry.
They advised all the relevant government institutions expected to be affected by the PIGB if it becomes law to put in place mechanisms for its speedy implementation. Participants also advised against “any possible foot-dragging or institutional resistance capable of creating avoidable obstacles to either assent to the PIGB, its implementation or the passage of the remaining Bills”.
The Symposium was convened by NEITI as part of its mandate as an anti-corruption agency committed to enthroning transparency, accountability and good governance of the extractive sector.
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