The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Dr. Ibe Kachikwu on Thursday said following the commitment and disposition of the National Assembly, it has become obvious that the harmonized Petroleum Industry Governance Bill will be ready by next month.
The Consultant to the National Assembly Committee on Petroleum Resources Upstream, Dr. Francis Adigwe had revealed to the Roundtable on the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill organized by the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC) and the Media Initiative for Transparency in Extractive Industries (MITEI) in Abuja that “there is little to harmonize. It is not going to be a complex job except that the budget is taking time now.”
Responding, the representative of the minister, Mr. Adegbite Adeniji expressed hope that the bill would see the light of the day earlier than the August that the ministry had expected.
His words: “At the point of harmonization, we have heard from him (Adigwe), a member of the committee that almost certainly by the end of this month that work will be completed. I even said June but from what I am hearing, which means the bill is done.
“This means by next month perhaps the bill will be ready. The harmonized bill will be ready. I think we are getting to the dying minute of this whole process.”
He had earlier noted that when in force, the law will insulate the regulator from interference, stressing that there is need for independence of the regulator.
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) , Waziri Adio noted that the battle for the enactment of the PIGB has reached a stage that the stakeholders cannot afford to allow it elapse.
The consultant to the organization, Dr. Garuba Dauda, who represented him pointed out that NEITI, is committed to making sure that “we are able to get a law before they pack up the 8th National Assembly.”
The NNRC Program Coordinator, Tengi George-Ikoli disclosed that Nigeria has lost $275 billion as a result of the non-passage of the bill into law.
“Let me just say that Nigeria has lost over $275billion to the inability to passage Petroleum Industry Bill into law since it was proposed 20 years ago,” she said.
She urged President Muhammadu Buhari to assent the bill upon the passage of the harmonized version as it would aid the passage of the Oil Company part of Petroleum Industry Bill.
On the essence of the Roundtable, the METEI National Coordinator, Comrade Collins Olayinka explained that “we thought that as journalists we cannot be passive reporters. We think that the PIGB will witness challenges that is why we put this forum together. Time to develop our capacity is now.”
In his presentation titled, “Critical Petroleum Sector Reforms Proposed by the PIGB Transition Process Process Post-PIGB” Prof. Wumi Iledare, said that the nation depends on oil and gas for 90% of its revenue yet it contributes less than 10% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a result of bad governance, lack of rule of law, transparency and participation.
He said to change the situation, there is a need for policy but a policy is useless if there is no legislative backing.
The summary of the key changes in the bill are roles, accountability, governance and transparency and meritocracy for appointment.
He submitted that “there is going to be competition. Whether you are going to become the GMD, they will send names that are competed; they will send names that will be interviewed as to how you are going to meet these key challenges.”
He submitted that the President may not have any excuse to withhold assent to the bill, which contents are in line with the document already ratified by the Federal Executive Council.