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PIB: Nigeria must make best use of oil resources now, Omo-Agege charges

By Obas Esiedesa

Deputy President of the Senate, Chief Ovie Omo-Agege has warned that Nigeria must hurry to make the best use of its oil resources now, because the world would turn away from fossil fuel in few years time.

He stated that global demand for oil would dry up making the resources less valuable.

Senator Omo-Agege stated this at a host communities’ colloquium on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in Owerri, Imo State, organised by OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative, on Tuesday.

He, however, noted that the PIB currently before the National Assembly has provided the country an opportunity to have a law that would promote activities in the sector and provide the needed impact on the economy and the development of host communities.

Panelists at the colloquium

Omo-Agege who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Dr. Otive Igbuzor called for support for the PIB, noting that sector has struggled due to lack of adequate laws to unlock its full potentials.

“The good news is that the proposed Petroleum Industry Bill (2020) is coming to change all that. The two major planks of the Bill are:

“Run the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as a business enterprise by the name NNPC limited. This is just as we have Saudi Aramco in Saudi Arabia; PetróleoBrasileiro S.A. (Petrobras) in Brazil; Equinor in Norway, and Petronas in Malaysia.

“Establish regulatory agencies to serve as the regulatory agency of the industry”.

He pointed out the Bill also made oil host communities a cardinal issue.

“In our recent past history, we have seen perhaps avoidable restiveness from these host communities, that border around what has been perceived as inadequate care or concern for the survival, and, or well-being of these peoples.

“I want to say that whatever administrative shortfalls that may have informed these acts of resistance, would not have been there if the appropriate interface between the operating companies and the host communities was the order.

“The rules of such interface at every segment of the value chain can only be prescribed and administered by appropriately constituted and operated regulatory agency or agencies. In this light, the Bill provides for a dual regulatory system. The first takes care of the upstream sector where the most encounter with host communities, happens. This is the Upstream Regulatory Commission. The second is the Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority”.

While the Bill proposes that the host community trust fund should be funded by 2.5% of the actual operating expenses (OPEX) for the accounting period of the preceding year of the settlor, he advocated that this should be increased to 5%.

On his part, Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Niger Delta, Rep Henry Nwawuba said the PIB is at the top of legislative agenda of the House of Representatives.

He assured that the House would complete work on the Bill by the first quarter of next year.

He lamented the large number of abandoned projects in the region, noting that there is the need have a coordinated approach to the development of the region.

Earlier, the Executive Director of OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative, Oke Epia urged host communities to scrutinize the provisions of the Bill and come up with positions that improve the development of the region.

“These provisions are an assortment of what Abuja thinks the region deserves in exchange for the transference (or take over) of its resource ownership. I am inclined to the view that not only does the Bill sidestep the ownership question but also tends to outsource government responsibility for robust redress of the debilitating consequences of extraction to corporates.

“In a sense, we may be dealing with a coterie of corporatist instruments of state capture. But I am also aligned with the argument that a law is better than no law in the ongoing quest for reforms. While the PIB may not be tailored to address the decades-long resource ownership question, it nonetheless presents an opportunity to make incremental gains in the agitation for a better Niger delta region” he stated.

Written by ExpressDay

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