Uche Usim; Adewale Sanyaolu (Abuja)
The delay in passing the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is said to have cost the country over $200 billion, the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Mr. Waziri Adio, has disclosed.
Adio stated this at a symposium on the Next Steps for PIB convened by NEITI in Abuja yesterday.
A worried Adio explained that the inability of the country to have a new petroleum sector law in place has led to lack of clarity and inadequate transparency mechanisms leading to the more than $200 billion loss in eight years.
The NEITI boss explained that Nigeria is increasingly in competition for oil and gas investments with many other African countries, not to talk of other oil jurisdictions.
‘‘Now that we are hopefully close to the end of this circuitous journey, it is important for us to focus on the next tasks in a way that will proactively and strategically ensure the intention of the proposed laws are fully realised, to ensure that we have not undertaken the long journey in vain,’’ he said.
The NEITI boss commended the 8th National Assembly in getting the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) passed within two years.
Going down memory lane, he said the PIGB was first introduced in June 2016, and eventually passed by the Senate on May 25, 2017, while the House of Representatives followed suit last January 19 when it passed its own version of PIGB, stating that it is now clear that a landmark has already been recorded.
But despite the passage of PIGB by the National Assembly, he said there is still much work to be done in the three other bills still pending, adding that at the end of the day, ensuring effective implementation of the resultant laws in ways that will reposition and transform the oil and gas sector to become a real blessing, and not a curse, for the people is important.
The NEITI boss noted that despite the fact that oil prices are still not in the threshold of $100+ per barrel , and in spite of the fact that the best days of hydrocarbons are possibly behind the country, the petroleum sector as at last year still accounted for almost 60 percent of government revenues and more than 80 per cent of export earnings.
He opined that, given the disproportionate impact of government revenues and export earnings on the economy, it will not be far-fetched to insist that the oil and gas sector remains the backbone of not just the economy but also of national life.
‘‘Our expectation is that this meeting will address many of the questions that have been asked, including those yet to be asked, or at least, set us thinking seriously about these questions. Some of these include: what transitional arrangements are being contemplated? What is the plan for the fiscal, host community and administrative bills? How do we create optimal equilibrium between revenues for government and returns for investors on one hand and among geo-political zones on the other?”