NIGERIA is a country of the absurd. If not, where else will a bill that is meant to sanitise the oil and gas sector, which yields more than 80 percent of the revenue to the federal government take more than eight years to be passed? Given the importance of the sector to the country, one would have expected an easy passage of the bill that was meant to harmonise 16 different laws that hitherto had governed the activities of the industry in more than 53 years that oil has been explored and exploited in the country. Suffice it to point out that some of the laws are archaic.
The bill, for an act to provide for the establishment of a legal, fiscal and regulatory framework for the petroleum industry in Nigeria and for other related matters was sent to the 7th National Assembly in 2012. Since then, the National Assembly has been making motion with movement on the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB. Yes, the bill has passed the second hearing at the Senate. The House of Representatives has also conducted public hearings in all the six geopolitical zones in the country. At the hearings, a tower of babel arose with a lot of diatribes from interest groups who attempted to ethnicise, politicise or personalise certain aspects of the bill.
The international oil companies, who are major stakeholders are not left out in the fray over the bill because they want to protect their profitability and make sure that the cost of doing business does not escalate. They also do not want the government to get more revenue from them, a position that varies with that of government. Government, on its part, says it wants to reduce the cost of doing business and protect the interest of all stakeholders including the community. In all the projections, a lot of politics is being played with regards to the PIB and there is no demonstrable political will on the part of the second arm of government to pass the Bill.
No doubt, the situation has affected investment in the oil and gas sector as the fate of the bill remains uncertain. The editorial board of Realnews, has decided to take another look at the Petroleum Industry Bill in order to examine the contentious issues that have clogged the wheels of the all important bill from passage with the intention of educating the people and getting the National Assembly to do the needful without further delaying it. In doing this, we interview a member of the technical committee on the PIB to explain all the thorny issues in the Bill. The cover story entitled: The Politics of PIB was written by Maureen Chigbo, our editor. There is also an accompanying cover box interview with a member of the technical committee on PIB, Abiye Membere, group executive director, Exploration and Production, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, entitled: What the PIB is all About. Read and learn more about the PIB. You will be happy you did.
— Nov. 18, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT