From Ayodele Samuel Lagos
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) commends the National Assembly on the recent passage of the long awaited Petroleum Industry and Governance Bill (PIGB). This follows the passage by both Chambers of the harmonized version.
Recall that following the separate passage of the Bill by the two chambers, CISLAC and her partners have been engaging the relevant Committees to conclude the harmonisation process and have it ready for Presidential Assent in good time.
CISLAC note that a commitment to do this by the end of March was made by the NASS and are therefore delighted that the timeline has been met and our legislators have kept their word.
CISLAC observes that the passage of the PIB was one of the campaign promises of the present administration to be delivered within the first one year in office; the commitment had been reiterated in the Federal Government’s Short and Medium Term Priorities to grow Nigeria’s Oil & Gas Industry 2015–2019 (7 Big Wins), and ought to have been passed by the first quarter of 2017. It is however better late than never.
The group said the Bill, as passed, has retained many of the proposals put forward by civil society, including CISLAC and her partners during the Public Hearing session held on the Bill, including the unbundling of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to separate her commercial role from her regulatory functions and establish institutions with clear roles and powers, among others.
“It is pertinent to highlight that the law is not perfect and still retains some vestiges of the old order such as the Petroleum Equalization Fund which seems to contradict the suggested policy direction for deregulation and the establishment of a single regulator for both the downstream and upstream which could be burdensome and lead to inefficiency. There is also a lack of clarity on the proposed 5% Fuel Levy in terms of manner and stages for collection,” CISLAC said.
CISLAC, however, posits that this is the closest we have ever been to such legislation in 12 years and represents our greatest opportunity to have a law that will substantially address the lack of strong and clear institutions governing the sector and address the uncertainty in the sector that have resulted in loss of revenues, absence of investment and monumental corruption.
“We therefore call on the President to promptly assent to the Bill which should be presented to him by March 30, 2018, after independent due diligence in fulfillment of his promise to provide appropriate legal and regulatory framework particularly important for optimal performance of the oil and gas sector and in line with the anti-corruption stance of his administration.
We call on the National Assembly to now shift their focus on the passage of the outstanding components of the PIB addressing Host Community issues and the Fiscal Framework for the sector, without which we cannot really say we have a PIB in place.”