As the harmonised Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) is yet to get to the desk of President Muhammadu Buhari for assent, expert feared the current delay might lead to more investment losses in the oil and gas sector.
Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) had earlier said that Nigeria loses $200 billion yearly due to the delay in the passage of the PIGB.An Act set to establish the legal and regulatory framework, institutions and regulatory authorities for the Nigerian petroleum industry, to establish guidelines for the operation of the upstream and downstream sectors, and for purposes connected with the same.
The PIB has suffered repeated setbacks due largely to disagreements among stakeholders.The setbacks continued until early this year when the House of Representatives passed the bill, which seeks to provide for the governance and institutional framework for the petroleum sector.
Things took a new tune last week, as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, in a two paragraph statement dated May 16th and made available to State House Correspondents, said his findings revealed that the Bill was still undergoing standard operating legislative processes of the National Assembly preparatory to being transmitted to Mr. President.
“Further to several enquiries by the media, interest groups, and the public in respect of the named Bill, may I please state that the said Bill has not yet been transmitted by the National Assembly to President.
“From my enquiries, the Bill is still undergoing standard operating legislative processes of the National Assembly preparatory to transmission, please.”The senate committee on petroleum resources (upstream), Omotayo Alasoadura, had promised that the harmonised bill would be presented to Buhari on March 30.The initial delay was thought to have been caused by the fact that March 30 coincided with Good Friday during which Buhari was in Lagos state for an official visit.
The implication of this is that the PIGB may suffer more delay, reduce enthusiasm, which would result to investment loses in the oil and gas sector, according to the Registrar/Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Credit Administration (ICA).Speaking with The Guardian yesterday on the implication of the latest development, Onalo said that current status of the PIGB would affect the enthusiasm of the operators in the oil and gas sector.
He said: “Expectation has been high over time and very close to actualization, only to hear that the president is yet to see the bill. This is a huge setback for the oil and gas industry and ultimately the economy. It is not impossible that he has not seen it because the president will gain nothing to have seen the bill and come out to claim order wise. It is disheartening to here the latest development on the bill after many years of going front and back on the bill until it is now out of the legislative chambers.
“This goes further to show the level of integrity on democracy. It shows that there are lots of people in this country that does not wish the country well. It is a lesson to all Nigerians that it does not make sense to peg the income of the country on oil and gas.“I think there is a serious loophole in our democratic governance that such things of national interest will be under the control of few cabals who are setting the hands of the clock back.”
“It will slow down investment in the oil and gas sector. Foreign investments were coming in with full force because of the critical reforms that the bill came to address in the oil and gas. What this means is that any investment that suppose to come to the sector by the end of this month, may be placed on hold and consequently, the nation will lose out such opportunity. This kind of a thing will not bother those who are not working for the national interest. The investment that should have come this week may be delayed for one or two weeks, but they will surely come.
The Chairman, Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN), Bank-Anthony Okoroafor, said that the PIGB emphasized the need for the President to ascent to the bill as soon as possible.He also stressed the need for the passage of Petroleum Industry Administration Bill, Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill and the Petroleum Host Community Bill.
“We need the governance bill to set up the framework to 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 as well as foster a conducive business environment,” he said