Reiterates Urgency of a New Petroleum Law
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has stressed the need for urgency in the consideration and enactment of a new petroleum industry legislation for Nigeria, considering the constantly changing circumstances and uncertainty surrounding the oil and gas sector globally.
Mr. Waziri Adio, NEITI Executive Secretary stated this in Lagos at the just concluded two-day retreat on “Fixing the Oil and Gas Sector in Nigeria” hosted by NEITI for the selected members of the House of Representatives Committees on petroleum upstream, downstream and gas resources .
“As a country, we need to be conscious of the constantly changing circumstances and uncertainty surrounding the oil and gas industry globally and urgently enact a new petroleum sector legislation for Nigeria” Adio stated.
“Oil and gas resources are finite, non-renewable and will become obsolete. Revenues from oil and gas resources are always volatile; prices will always go up and come down”, NEITI Executive Secretary explained.
Mr. Adio advised the lawmakers to be conscious of the consequences of delay in taking actions. “Oil and gas producers have various and sometimes divergent interests depending on their individual goals and objectives at any point in time. We should be conscious of the fact that there is always a cost for inaction“.
In its October 2016 Policy Brief, titled: “The Urgency of a New Petroleum Sector Law” NEITI had called on the executive arm of government, with the President in the lead, to take full charge of the process of passing a new law for the petroleum sector, stating that enacting a new petroleum law should be prioritized as one of the “planks of economic recovery”.
The Retreat was hosted with the support of FOSTER/DFID and drew participants from committees of the House of Representatives with oversight functions on the oil and gas industry. Papers that were presented at the retreat helped to strengthen participants’ knowledge and understanding of the oil and gas industry operations and challenges, including the role of the lawmakers in fixing them.
The Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Upstream, Honorable Musa Sarkin Adar who spoke on behalf of the Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Honorable Femi Gbajabiamila, commended NEITI and its partner for organizing the event, which he noted has exposed members to issues and challenges in the Nigeria oil and gas sector and boost their capacity to address them.
“During our interaction with them, we stressed the need for members to have good understanding and knowledge of the extractive industries. What we are witnessing today is one of the products of our engagement with NEITI”, Hon. Adar informed his colleagues.
“This is so because of the need to boost the capacity of members to understand issues of transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, especially at this time when the National Assembly awaits presentation of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB)”, Hon. Adar stated.
In his remarks, Dr. Micheal Uzoigwe of FOSTER/DFID urged participants to use the opportunity of the retreat to proffer practical and sustainable solutions to the myriad of challenges confronting Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, noting that the time to fix those challenges is now.
Dr. Uzoigwe pledged FOSTER’s continued support to any initiative that is aimed at addressing the oil and gas sector’s challenges in Nigeria. He commended NEITI for its continuous working relationship with his organization in this direction.
The Retreat exposed legislators to global and local landscape of the oil and gas industry. A renowned oil and gas industry expert, former Director, Department of Petroleum Resources and Nigeria Country Chair, Energy Institute, Osten Olurunsola examined the assets and structure of the petroleum industry in Nigeria and how these natural resources have been managed over the years.
The presentation was followed by an intervention from another energy law expert, former Technical Adviser to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Gbite Adeniji whose presentation focused on fixing the oil and gas industry through quality governance.
Other presentations were on the general administration of the industry by Adeoye Adefulu and Professor Lucky Worika of the Faculty of Law, University of Port Harcourt whose papers exposed legislators to the origin of resource curse and the justification for Nigeria’s membership of the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
One of the key areas envisaged in the petroleum industry bill currently before the National Assembly is on fiscal regimes, which determines who gets what and how between government, companies/investors. Omowumi Iledare, a Professor of Petroleum Economics at the Louisiana State University Energy Studies, USA & Institute of Petroleum Studies (IPS), University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, provided comprehensive guide in his presentation at the Retreat.
The fate of host and impacted communities within the industry value chain formed the basis of the presentation by another industry expert, Isreal Aye, a Director at Aspen Energy Nigeria. Mr. Aye’s intervention proffered practical solutions to the lawmakers on how to address the concerns of host Communities in the proposed petroleum industry legislation.
The presentation from NEITI was targeted at bringing the legislators into full understanding of its mandate, objectives, principles, processes and benefits. The Director of Communications, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji who made the presentation renewed NEITI’s appeal for its report to enjoy regular debates during plenary session at the National Assembly as envisaged by the law on the role of the legislature in the NEITI process. Also from NEITI, the Director, Technical Services, Dr. Dieter Bassi exposed the legislators to the content of NEITI reports using the 2018 oil and gas audit report.
The Retreat rose with a resolution by the legislators to give the PIB deliberations all the priority attention it deserves. The legislators also pledged to work closely with NEITI and its multi-stakeholders in the areas of knowledge and capacity building to ensure qualitative engagements in the consideration of the bill.
NEITI Executive Secretary at the event assured law makers that his agency will offer support at every stage of the legislative actions on the bill if given the opportunity.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has already constituted a high ranking committee on the PIB. The committee, made up of thirty-seven members is chaired by the Chief Whip, Honorable Mohammed Monguno.
A close examination of the committee’s list sent to NEITI by the Chairman, shows that most of its members were part of the just concluded three-day Retreat in Lagos. NEITI is currently exploring the possibility of hosting a similar Retreat for members of the oil and gas relevant committees in the Senate.