Stakeholders seek robust oil sector for better welfare of Nigerians.
Stakeholders in Nigerian oil and gas sector have urged the Federal Government to make laws that allow for seamless access to information and efficient exploration and production operations while allocating rights transparently.
They stressed the need for the petroleum industry to better the lives of citizens through comprehensive national strategy, clear legal framework, and competent institutions.
At a stakeholders’ forum on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry and facilitated by Facility for Oil Sector Transformation (FOSTER) in Lagos, the participants lamented that the Ease of Doing Business agenda was not making the needed success in sector due to the lack of regulatory framework to attract requisite investments.
They admitted that the PIB was hinged on benefits, but noted that ironically, some people were reaping from its non-passage of the bill.
The speakers urged Nigerians to insist that the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), recently sent to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent, be passed into law before 2019.
They stressed that the incentives of the bill should be tied to politics.
LCCI president, Babatunde Ruwase, said there was a need for a continuous campaign by concerned stakeholders, noting: “This will go a long way in making the government realize we are serious. This is because some people are working hard to keep the status quo.”
Expert Advisory Panel, Nigeria Natural Resource Charter, Tunji Lardner, in his presentation titled: Nigeria: The Future of our Oil & Economy, stated that the country’s petroleum industry was bedeviled by weak and dependent regulators; overlapping institutional roles; environmental degradation; lack of transparency and accountability; funding constraints; political interference as well as outdated laws, among others.
He pleaded that tax regimes and contract terms should allow full value of resources to be attained consistent with attracting necessary investments, and should be flexible to realities.
Lardner added: “Benefits of extraction should be transferred to host communities and negotiations tidied up. Nationally owned company role should be clear and free from political interference under a transparent regime.
“Revenues from the oil industry should be invested for the benefit of current and future generations and the government should facilitate private sector investments to diversify the economy and increase investments in the extractive sector.
“Oil companies should commit to the highest environmental, social and human resource standards with upward harmonisation of standards by international organisations to support sustainable development.”
He listed regulatory bottlenecks in the sector to include obsolete regulatory framework; poor disclosure by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC); confliction information from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); discretionary ministerial powers and poor due diligence; poor monitoring by weak regulators; low investments; diminishing reserves; international oil company (IOC) divestments, among others.