Passage of PIGB: NEITI praises Senate urges House to do same
By Titus Agbo
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has welcomed with excitement, the bold step by the Senate to pass the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) last Thursday.
A statement signed by its Director of Communication Orji Ogbonnaya Orji said the decision of the Senate to consider the bill as priority resulting in its passage was not only legendary, but historic given the challenges the bill had passed through in its legislative journey for almost two decades.
“NEITI as an agency set up to enthrone transparency and accountability in the management of extractive industries in Nigeria, has legitimate interest in the PIGB in view of its strategic importance to the realization of its mandate.” It added, saying; “NEITI therefore calls on the House of Representatives to find similar courage to give the bill an accelerated consideration on its merit in overriding public interest.”
The statement further noted that the passage of the bill was coming more than seventeen years after the process commenced in April 2000 stressing that “We also note that the objective of a petroleum sector Law remains to develop a dynamic governance framework that will re-position the Petroleum industry to fully embrace competition, openness, accountability, professionalism as well as better profit returns on investments.”
NEITI also observed that the public outcry that greeted the failure of the last National Assembly to pass this important Bill perhaps informed the current Senate’s resolve to revive legislative interest on the Bill resulting in the milestone achievement recorded at the moment.
“We are delighted that to avoid the controversies that killed the last PIB, the current Senate, carefully assembled experts who carefully broke the Bill into various segments beginning with the governance aspect of the proposed law. The PIGB now passed by the Senate is a product of this creative initiative”.
NEITI equally recalled that in 2016, it was in realisation of the current stagnation of investment opportunities in the Petroleum Industry, the negative consequences to the economy as a result of the absence of the new law that made the agency to publish a researched Policy Brief titled “Urgency of a new Law for the Petroleum Sector”.
In that publication shared with members of the National Assembly, NEITI alerted the nation that Nigeria had so far lost over $200 billion as a result of absence of the Law.
“These lost revenues were as a result of investments withheld or diverted by investors to other (more predictable) jurisdictions. The hedging by investors stems from the expectation that the old rules would no longer apply, but not knowing when the new ones would materialize”. It said.
It will be recalled that NEITI’s 2013 audit of the oil and gas sector revealed that a cumulative $10.4bn and N378.7bn were lost as a result of under-remittances, inefficiencies, theft or absence of a clear governance framework for the sector. The cost to the nation in 2013 alone was N1.74 trillion.
It is now hoped that with the prospects of a new Law coming in to place, this huge revenue losses to the nation as a result of governance lapses will be eliminated.
“While NEITI looks forward to carefully studying the contents of the PIGB as passed by the Senate, it joins all stakeholders to commend Senate for what has been achieved so far in the passage of this important Bill.” The statement further noted.
It also commended the media, civil society organizations, industry, stakeholders and experts who had followed the bill in the National Assembly for their valued contributions to the process.
It assured that “NEITI hopes to convey a multi-stakeholders dialogue on the provisions of the bill as passed by the Senate to set the stage for informed stakeholders’ engagements on how this Bill will positively influence the on-going reforms in the oil and gas industry.”