Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of State Petroleum Resources, has assured that the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, PIGB, will be passed and signed into law before the end of June this year.
Dr. Kachikwu who spoke in Abuja on Thursday, March 8, 2018, at a roundtable on critical reform issues contained in the PIGB organized by the Media Initiative on Extractive Industries, MITEI, and Nigeria Natural Resource Charter, NNRC, said government was determined to have the bill passed into law.
Represented by his Senior Technical Adviser, Policy and Regulation, Mr. Adegbite Adeniji, the Minister noted that the Bill which is currently undergoing harmonization by a joint committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives would create the foundation for the efficient operation of the oil and gas sector in the country.
According to him, “With the work that has been done so far, we are targeting June as the date we think the PIGB can become law before legislative activities of the current National Assembly end. The aim is to ensure that both the policy and regulation duties are clearly spelt out because we need institutions to implement both the petroleum and gas policies.”
He said the new bill will lead to the creation of strong and independent regulator for the sector, the Petroleum Regulatory Commission (PRC), which will ensure that both the operators and the government play by the rule.
The new regulator in the PIGB will combine the functions of the Petroleum Inspectorate (PI), the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA.
Kachikwu allayed fears over the sacking of workers of the DPR, and the PPPRA, stating that workers of both agencies would be assimilated into the new petroleum industry regulator.
“Where they are gaps in the manpower in there, it provides an opportunity for people to be appointed from outside, because again, you want to put in new ideas, fresh legs in the whole process. In that process, you preserve the jobs, and you also attract a pathway for the employment of other skills from outside to help energise the new system you are trying to build”, he added.
In his presentation, the President Nigerian Association of Energy Economics, Prof Wumi Iledare explained that the PIGB would create efficient and effective governing institutions, restructure the industry to assure clarity, efficiency and effectiveness.
Iledare who is also the Director, Emerald Energy Institute of the University of Port Harcourt, pointed out that the new institutions that are envisaged to be created by the PIGB must operate as intended, deliver as promised, with robust controls, checks and balances as well as consequences and devoid of wastes and leakages.
In her welcome address at the event attended by government agencies, NNPC, civil society organizations and the media, the Programme Coordinator of NNRA, Tengi George-Ikoli, revealed that Nigeria has lost a whopping $235 billion in the last 17 years owing to the non-passage of the bill, which was first presented to the National Assembly in 2008 under late President Umaru Yar’Adua.
She therefore called on the National Assembly to quickly harmonise the bill and send it to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.
She said: “Analysts say that Nigeria has lost over $235 billion due to its inability to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law since the reform in the Nigerian Petroleum industry was kick-started almost two decades ago. Comparatively over the last five years, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana all passed their respective petroleum sector bills in 2012, 2016, 2015 and 2016 respectively. Nigeria is no longer as competitive globally; or even within the continent of Africa.”
George-Ikoli declared that it is important for the PIGB to be passed in order for Nigeria to remain a dominant force in the hydrocarbon sector on the continent.