From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has disclosed that Nigeria lost an estimated $50 billion worth of investments in 10 years due to non-passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), lack of progress and stagnation in the petroleum industry.
The President stated this in his remarks at a ceremony on the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), which preceded the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, yesterday. He said stagnation affected the growth of the economy blaming the lack of political will by past administrations to actualise the needed transformation in the petroleum industry as contributing to the loss of that sum of money.
According to a statement by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari said assent to the PIB on August 16 marked the end of decades of uncertainty and under-investment in the petroleum industry.
“We are all aware that past administrations have identified the need to further align the industry for global competitiveness, but there was lack of political will to actualise this needed transformation. This lack of progress has stagnated the growth of the industry and the prosperity of our economy. In the past 10 years, Nigeria has lost an estimated $50 billion worth of investments due to uncertainty created by the non-passage of the PIB. This administration believes that the timely passage of the PIB will help our country attract investments across the oil and gas value chain.”
The President said the country and investors would derive improved benefits from a stable fiscal framework which the PIA brings along.
He said the signing of the bill was part of the administration’s commitment to building a competitive and resilient petroleum industry that would attract investment, improve revenue base, create jobs and support economic diversification agenda. He said the Petroleum Industry Act would create a regulatory environment that would ensure efficiency and accountability across the oil and gas value chain and reposition NNPC to a commercially driven National Petroleum Company that is accountable to the Federation.
“The Act also provides for a direct benefit framework that will enable sustainable development of host communities. I appeal to the host communities to look carefully at the contents of the bill which in the implementation will bring real and lasting benefits to them. Furthermore, the Act provides for deliberate end to gas flaring which would facilitate the attainment of Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contributions of the Paris Agreement through a funding mechanism to support gas flare out project in host communities.’’
While directing immediate implementation of the framework for the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), he urged all relevant stakeholders to comply and reposition for full activation within 12 months.
The president named Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, as head of the PIA implementation team and urged all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) to adjust to the transition designed to reposition the economy through the new Act.
Other members of the committee are Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources; Group Managing Director, NNPC; Executive Chairman, FIRS; Representative of the Ministry of Justice, Representative of the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Natural Resources, Olufemi Lijadu as External Legal Adviser, while Executive Secretary, Petroleum Technology Development Fund, will serve as Head of Coordinating Secretariat and Implementation Working Group.
Meanwhile, Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, has cautioned against tampering or manipulation in the disbursement of the three per cent (about $500 million) compensation in the PIA which accrues to host communities by appointed persons to manage it. He urged prudent deployment of the money, specifically earmarked to engender development in host communities and end their suffering.
Lawan, who spoke to State House Correspondents after the president’s statement on the PIA, urged Nigerians not to focus on the grievances associated with the new Act, but remain optimistic that the Act (which can be amended) would be implemented. He equally expressed confidence that the PIA would further incentivise greater investment in the sector.