Posted by Mayowa Okekale, Abuja | 19 July 2016 | 1,680 times
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has assured that the National Assembly will engage with oil industry stakeholders on contentious issues as it begins work on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Speaking on Monday during the National Stakeholders Summit on Petroleum Industry Reforms organised by the House Committees on Petroleum in Abuja, the Speaker said the legislature is determined to draft a law for the industry that will be in the best interest of Nigerians.
He said: “The need to make consensus and lend a voice to long suppressed agitations in the drafting and consideration of the Petroleum Industry Bills informed our decision to organise this stakeholders summit. We are optimistic that this approach will provide the crucial platform to enable us cross pollinate ideas and ventilate our positions on certain contentious issues, regardless how vexed they may be. You can rest assured that our work at the National Assembly is to do your good intention.
“We are not unaware of the several failed attempts at redeeming the petroleum industry by our predecessors. The Petroleum Industry Bill has been down a long, tortuous, and chequered road. Most of us have been co-travelers on the journey to pass the Bill into law, and have the requisite experience to avoid any pitfalls ahead, hence this resolve to seek proper consultations with you and build confidence amongst us.”
Lamenting that the poor management of the petroleum industry has left much to be desired with only a few elite Nigerians benefitting from it, Dogara assured that all these issues will be addressed during the summit.
The Speaker noted: “Nigeria is one of the richest petroleum countries of the world. Paradoxically, it has never been able to maximise effectively its immense oil and gas potentials and the revenue accruing from it. The downstream operates in a state of almost continuous malfunction, and for years has been characterised by comatose refineries and an inefficient downstream. It operates under an inadequate legal framework, with an inefficient and poorly maintained pipeline network and depot system. The result is that Nigeria is both one of the world’s largest producers of crude oil, and one of the world’s leading importers of petroleum products, a dependency that has enriched the elite at the expense of the increasingly impoverished masses.
“The downstream runs on a system of subsidies until recently and uniform pricing which has proved ineffective, in addition to being administered in a very opaque way. Shortages and inadequate supply have characterised the Nigerian downstream for over two decades and can be described as an example of system failure.
“The upstream has not fared better either. Pipeline vandalism, large-scale environmental degradation, and the world’s highest levels of crude oil theft have been constants for several years. Decades after the advent of Nigeria’s petroleum industry, problems which led to host community agitation remain unaddressed and highly politicised, and the question of the extent to which revenues from the industry should be shared among the three tiers of government and the people remain, as do the content and limits of Corporate Social Responsibility. These are all crucial issues that should be addressed to guarantee and ensure a stable polity in Nigeria.
“These examples represent just a few of the present problems of Nigeria’s petroleum industry, and are reflective of an industry that is in critical need of total restructuring, which can only be commenced through the enactment of laws that provide the legal framework that will promote the emergence of an optimal petroleum industry.”
Dogara lamented that over the years, Nigeria has performed much worse than sub-Saharan Africa as a whole and much worse than other regions of the developing world in terms of human development indicators, to the extent that it is regarded as a foster child for ‘how not to run a petroleum industry’. He assured that the National Assembly will enact good laws for the industry.
“A defective or inadequate legislation is akin to building a house on a shaky foundation with the expectation that it will stand nonetheless. We cannot afford to continue with such faulty expectations,” the Speaker stated.
•Photo shows Speaker Dogara.
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