A group, Women in Extractive Sector, has recommended that the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) when it is eventually passed into law and other complementary bills created from the omnibus Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) should include respect for 35 per cent affirmative action.
The group argued that the challenges of mining oil and other extractive resources from the Niger Delta and other parts of Nigeria, as well as the unwholesome environmental degradations that come with these mining activities affect women the most, and as such, they should be considered to partake in the implementation of the PIGB.
Speaking at a press briefing after its recent meeting in Abuja, the convener of the group, Ms. Faith Nwadishi, told journalists that at the moment, the structural hierarchy in the running of Nigeria’s extractive sector vis-à-vis government and private entities involved in the sector, do not favour the womenfolk.
Nwadishi explained that it was important for women in Nigeria to be part of the implementation of the PIGB and other bills when they are passed into law, adding that women should actually be amongst the boards of trustees for host communities’ development which the Petroleum Industry Host Community Bill (PIHCB) could create.
According to her, the business aspects of the oil industry reforms which the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill (PIFB) would address, should in consideration of the challenges of women, create a window to boost women participation in the business of oil and gas.
She also stated that in terms of administration, the Petroleum Industry Administration Bill (PIAB) should be able to create opportunities for women to rise in the industry’s hierarchy to be able to influence policies on issues that affect them.
“We are aware that the national assembly is yet to transmit the PIGB to the president for assent, we don’t want an indefinite postponement of the PIGB and ask that people should stop playing politics with the bill and reforms in the industry. In the last 17 years, we have been on this reform but 17 years is enough time to get the bill passed. We want to say that the four bills do not have any provision for inclusion of women issues as regards the 35 per cent affirmative action,” Nwadishi explained.
She added: “It is important to put women at the centre of the discussion. Women issues should be given a central role, and affirmative action in Nigeria should be given a priority as regards these bills.”
Asked why it may have taken the women a bit of time to begin to push for an inclusion of the women rights in the PIGB which content has been harmonised and passed by the national assembly, Nwadishi, stated: “We sent memos and position papers to the national assembly earlier but unfortunately the issues we raised where not included in the bill, but we want governance of the sector to give considerations to women appointments into top positions in institutions that would emerge from the implementation of the PIGB.”
“We also want the business aspects of the reforms to make it possible for women to partake in the business of the sector, and why should women not be part of the trust committees of the host communities because the environmental issues in the region affect women more than they affect others.”