[TNG investigation] 19 Years After: Who is scared of PIB’s passage? [Concluding Part]


By Emmanuel Ovuakporie

Continued from last week…

…Non-passage of Bill has made Nigeria lose trillions of Naira to oil and gas theft
… between 2011-2014 Nigeria lost 1.4bn barrels of crude oil and gas to theft worth $17bn that spanned 51 countries
… Nigeria loses $250m annually to non-passage of Bill-Stakeholders
… Nigeria lost 22mb of crude oil between Jan-June in 2019
…as Facility for Oil Sector Transformation Reforms, FOSTER leads the vanguard to ensure its passage

In this chat Agbonayinma further beamed a searchlight on what transpired after after a visit to the US to investigate the matter.

Agbonayinma steps down as chairman House adhoc committee on PenCom N9trn probe

The adhoc committee did not submit its report until the 8th House folded up to usher in the ninth House. 

The 9th Assembly has commenced and fresh adhoc committees would be set up by both legislative chambers to start all over in the new dispensation.
Monies will be allocated running into billions of naira to start fresh consultations on PIB.
Conferences will be held in the six geo-political zones and again tax payers money would be sunk into the Methuselah Bill like it was previously in the past three assemblies.
Another round of talkshops across the nation will be carried out by both Senators and Representatives on a Bill that has remained in circulation for almost two decades.
To this end, TNG sought the views of some critical stakeholders on the issue.
Evil members among us are against PIB-Hon Nkem-Abonta
Hon Uzoma  Nkem-Abonta a third timer of the House of Representatives is the immediate past Chairman Reps Committee on Public Petitions bared his mind on how different assemblies had poorly managed the PIB.
For 19years now various assemblies had failed to pass the PIB, what could be attributed to this?
Very good question, the truth is that we have evil members among us that have worked against the Bill and will continue to work against it. I remember I met the bill in the House and it has remained there till date.
In this 8th Assembly, Lawmakers traveled abroad to discuss PIB and at the end of the day the Bill still hit the rocks.
But one aspect, the legal framework was passed…
Agreed, but is that enough, it’s not enough because the industry has to be unbundled for us to get the best from the sector that lays the golden eggs.
We shall suffer the same fate if the same members working against it remain in circulation, they will always truncate it.
It’s sad we couldn’t pass PIB – Hon Joseph Akinlaja (PDP-Ondo) 
Akinlaja, who is an outgoing Rep and had spent eight years in the green chamber said that a lot of work had been done to make sure the PIG bill became a law.
He recalled that the leadership of the National Assembly organised many seminars and workshops, consultants were engaged and the document was virtually ready.
He said that the bill which the President had earlier declined assent after raising concerns, had been revisited by both chambers, expressing hope that the president would sign it into law before June.
“If you ask me, it’s only one of the regrets I have; if you recall rightly at the twilight of the 7th assembly we passed the bill but there was no concordance from the Senate.
“I say it’s my regret because that is what is in my mind, but a tree does not make a forest, there are so many interests in this matter.
“During this 8th assembly, the Speaker in particular, told us especially the three main committees, that we must bring up this private member bill, which we agreed to divide into parts.
“The Petroleum Governance Bill, the Petroleum Community Bill and the Petroleum Fiscal Bill.
“We really did a lot of job on it, I still hope that the governance bill if possible will be passed before we leave in June,” he said.
The outgoing legislator said that the other petroleum bills will be taken up by the 9th Assembly.
Akinlaja said that his regrets were because the world was not waiting for Nigeria adding that when the reforms in the oil industry began 18years ago, only six countries in Africa  had crude oil.
He said that the continent currently have over 14 oil producing countries and that investors were moving to Angola, Ghana among others.
The legislator said that at the peak of the oil industry in Nigeria, there were 32 working drilling rigs including, onshore, swum and offshore but the country currently have 17.
According to him, its not the job of the legislature alone, it is a Nigerian  business and  the input of the International Oil Companies (IOC) is needed to ensure that we come out with a law that will be beneficial to the country and those who invest their capital.
He expressed hope that the incoming 9th assembly would be able to pass the bills on time so that Nigeria will stop losing money in the deep off shore as a result of the absence of the law.
Speaking on refineries, the lawmaker recalled that between 1965 and 1981, Nigeria had four refineries producing petrol for export within the 16 years.
He said that as a result of a brief scarcity, Nigeria, under the directive of Gen. Ibrahim Babgida (rtd) was to import petrol for only four months but that had not stopped till date and have affected investment in the sector.
He said from 1981 to date which is more than 30years, the country had grown in human and vehicular population but not a single refinery had been built.
Akinlaja said that the sector needed a substantive Minister saying that for the President to double as the minister was too much of responsibility for one person.
He said though there is an active Minister for State, the sector was critical to the economy and needed a minister.
It’s painful PIB failed to sail through – Hon Iriase
Hon Pally Iriase is the immediate past Deputy Majority Whip of the House of Representatives, like other lawmakers, he regretted the non-passage of PIB in the 8th House.

For me I go with a pain in my heart following our inability even up till now to see through the petroleum industry bill, I was an active participant in the new thinking that we should split the bill into component part, governance and other technical issues should be separated. But the sentiment that has always worked against having a robust industry bill passed into an Act are still there, that is why we still have not signed this into law but it’s something we really need to come to grasp with.

In some quarters is being argued that the PIB in the 8th Assembly is a private Member Bill so the president may not want to endorse it, is this possible?

There is nothing wrong in a private member bill if it addresses socio-economic challenges. Apart from processing so many bills, this leadership of which I was a member was able to process up to passage and signing into law several constitution amendment bills and the novel idea of separating them into bits helped a lot so that one vote will not kill the whole thing and it helped to preserve the ones that were generally acceptable to both the legislature and executive, it was an innovation of Saraki and Dogara led leadership, so today now have clear constitutional position of the independence, the self accounting independence of houses of assembly.

De-politicise PIB-Hon Akpatason

PIGB most politicised bill in National Assembly - Akpatason
Hon Akpatason is the Deputy Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, in this chat, the Edo lawmaker insists that the PIB should be depoliticised in all ramifications if the Federal Government wants to achieve anything meaningful in the oil sector.
Hear him: “If we must move forward with the PIB then all that concerns the Bill must be depoliticised.
“The sensitivity of the Bill has made it an all comers affair and this is not good for the industry as it affects all operators in the oil sector from the IOCs to transporters.

It is the most politicised bill  in this National Assembly, from the Executives to the Legislature, there are a lot of interests.

“The refinery blocks and a lot of people are benefitting from a dysfunctional system.

“To correct this, it is for the Executive and Legislative arms of government to sit and discuss with experts in the sector; we must depoliticise this bill to move forward in the oil sector.

Non-passage of PIB makes Nigeria to lose $250m investment annually-Stakeholders
In  a public hearing on Petroleum Industry Administration, Fiscal and Host Community Bills,  held last year July by the committee on Petroleum Resources, Upstream critical stakeholders expressed concern over the loss of investments worth $250 billion due to absence of supportive legislation for the oil and gas industry reform.
The stakeholders insisted that if the trend continues Nigeria will continue to lose investments to other oil producing countries in Africa.
The Way Forward:
In April this year, FOSTER one of the major stakeholders in the oil  and gas sector organised a one-day national workshop across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria to enlighten journalists on why the non-passage of PIB has made it almost imposible for the oil and gas sector to blossom in Nigeria.
Using infographics to detail all the factors that could be checkmated to allow the sector to grow out of the woods.
The four facilitators were wonderful and it was an eye opener for all the journalists that attended this workshop.
They hinged on the fact that right from when oil was discovered in Oloibiri in 1958 there has never being a well formulated legal framework for the sector in Nigeria.
The key point at the seminar was the fact that the Gen Yakubu Gowon military administration too did not help matters as the obsolete Act on oil matters was not reformed.
Last year Saudi Arabia Aramco Oil, equivalent of NNPC sold 10percent of its shares for $50billion.
This is because there’s a legal framework governing the activities of the Saudi oil company unlike our NNPC.

The delay  in the passage of the bill is caused by lack of political will on the part of government.

In his submission at the seminar, Henry Adigun one of the facilitators said one of the setback facing the country is lack of political will to pass the PIB into law.
He explained that the common mantra is that corruption killed the refineries but he argued that it was not corruption but gross inefficiency that really crippled the refineries in Nigeria.
He said “the contribution of oil  to Nigeria’s GDP is 8.6percent and one will wonder why but  the truth is that there’s no additionality outside this.
Israel Aye, Joe Nwakue and Michael Uzoigwe all hammered on accountability on the part of government and the role the media had to play in ensuring that people in the position of authority are made to give account of the public trust.
The following infographics and tables were vividly explained as to why the passage of PIB is the ultimate way of getting full benefits from the oil and gas sector in Nigeria.
The high point is the graphical explanation of expected benefits of returns if proper reforms are carried out in the sector. See graph below.
First graph should be inserted here.
The above graph tells it all as to expected benefits if there’s a proper legal framework for the oil sector.
* Cleaner environment, better economic benefits etc
The second graph gives a better explanation as to what should be expected and how to go about it using the enticipated MTEF.
The third graph simply points to key projects to watch and its applications in the upstream sector.
And the fourth graph tells us how to go about reducing unit cost for production.
All the above will amount to an exercise in futility if the PIB is not eventually passed.
The ninth Assembly has commenced work and it’s expected that by 2023 all the four components of the PIBG will be passed.
The Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan has promised Nigerians that PIB will not be treated with kid gloves but iron fists.
How long will it take Nigeria to pass a Bill that could change  the fortunes of Nigerians?
This can only be answered by those in the corridor of power as it may take Nigeria 23years to pass such a sensitive Bill.
The world is fast changing and other sources of energy are beginning to mount the centre stage.
Electric cars are already in vogue in other climes and yet Nigeria can’t right the wrongs in the sector via the passage of a Bill that could galvanise the oil and gas sector.
Conclusively, in the first two quarters of 2019 Nigeria lost 22mb of crude to oil theft.

Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki who is also the chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee of the National Economic Council on Crude Oil Theft spoke at a stakeholders meeting held at the NNPC towers .

He said the menace of oil theft and pipeline vandalism were beginning to pose a threat to the national economy.

The governor called on stakeholders to join forces and work toward eradicating the menace of crude oil theft that was currently on upward swing in the country.

This has been the vogue from year to year simply because there’s no proper legal framework to govern the oil sector in Nigeria.

How long will this malaise continue? The answer lies in the institution of the institution to govern the industry.

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