Stakeholders in the oil and gas industry have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sign into law the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) passed by the National Assembly.
The stakeholders comprising industry lawyers, media practitioners and other professionals made the call in Lagos at a roundtable on PIGB organised by Centre for Financial Journalism (CFJ Nigeria) in partnership with Facility for Oil Sector Transformation (FOSTER), a DFID-funded programme.
Dwelling on the importance of PIGB, Senior Partner at Primera Africa Legal, Mr. Israel Aye, said that the legislation will result in efficient and effective institutions with clear and separate roles, commercially oriented and profit driven petroleum entities. He added that it will promote transparency and accountability, and create a conducive business environment for petroleum industry operations.
Given the impact this piece of legislation will have on the petroleum industry, the Nigerian economy and the Nigerian people, Aye said the best the government can do is to ensure its enactment without further delay.
The stakeholders also noted with dismay the delay in passing the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) since it was introduced about 17 years ago, arguing that this has left the country without an effective law for the petroleum industry. The consequence of this, they pointed out, is that both the regulators and the operators in the Nigerian petroleum industry are literally groping in the dark.
The absence of the necessary laws for the petroleum industry, the stakeholders said, has led to poor management of the industry with serious consequences for the economy and the welfare of Nigerians. “The Petroleum Industry Bill is meant to invigorate the industry through legal frameworks that will work together for the development of the Nigerian economy and upliftment of the welfare of Nigerians”, the stakeholders noted. They therefore posited that the national economy will not experience the desired impact from the oil industry if the poor management of the industry occasioned by lack of necessary laws is not addressed. In the same manner, the argued, Nigerians will not get the full benefit from the oil resources their country is blessed with if the governance of the industry remains shoddy.
The stakeholders therefore called on government to take the entire PIB seriously and ensure the passage of the various aspects of the Bill expeditiously. In this regard, therefore, they urged government to “continue the paradigm shift in setting the fiscal framework and not just the “governance” or administrative framework; promote and ensure that dry gas works; deliberately incentivize gas production for wider domestic utilization; incentivize local participation in the petroleum economy; manage transition from the current regime; ensure a robust manpower strategy and deliver the reforms as anticipated in the various bills; ensure petroleum policy continuity to make it fit into the expectations of Nigerians”.