•L-R: Member, Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) Task Force, Senator Tunde Ogbeha; Chairman, PIB Task Force, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma; Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke; and the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Continued on Pg. 6 Austen Oniwon, at the inauguration of PIB Task Force and Technical Committee in Abuja... yesterday. PHOTO: Sunday Aghaeze
By Chineme Okafor
Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, Thursday, disclosed that the newly constituted special task force on the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) was mandated to produce a new copy of the bill for presentation to the National Assembly within the shortest possible time.
The task force, chaired by former senator and chairman of the Board of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Udo Udoma Udo, was also expected to work alongside a technical sub-committee headed by the Director-General of Department for Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mr. Osten Olurunsola, which was charged with reviewing all former versions of the bill and come out with a draft within the next 30 days.
While working with the technical committee, the offices of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice to produce a new copy of the bill, the taskforce is equally expected to interact with the National Assembly in facilitating the passage of the PIB into law.
Speaking at the inauguration of the special PIB task force, Alison-Madueke stated that it had become obvious for Nigeria to accelerate all necessary transformation agenda in her oil and gas industry starting with a swift passage of the PIB into law.
“I think we can all see the need for transformation and change. It’s obvious we are beginning a new phase of transformation in our petroleum industry as we turn a new page. We have listened to the voices of Nigerians over the last few weeks as they spoke in unison asking for accelerated reforms in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.
And these are reforms we had already begun to put in place over the last few months and we want to anchor them very critically on the PIB which as we all know is the most critical piece of legislation to have come out of the oil and gas industry in the last 50 years or so,” Alison-Madueke said.
She explained further: “Accordingly, we are this morning taking further steps towards the passage of the PIB. Despite the challenges faced in passing the bill during the sixth National Assembly, we must now renew efforts to work alongside the seventh National Assembly under the leadership of Senator David Mark, and Hon. Aminu Tambuwal.
Following this, it is my privilege to inaugurate the special PIB task force made up of past very distinguished and honourable members of the National Assembly, under the inspiring leadership of Senator Udoma Udo Udoma and other members of the task force; Hon. Chibudom Nwuche, Senator Tunde Ogbeha, M.T Liman, Abdullahi Gumel, Ibrahim Dikko and of course the very able Mr, Peter Esele whom we trust will help us in building bridges with the labour and civil society.”
But Esele who is expected to serve as a representative of organised labour and civil society organisations in the country was conspicuously absent at the inauguration although no reason was given for his absence. Efforts to reach him on phone to confirm the basis for the development was not successful.
Alison-Madueke said: “Together, the taskforce will work alongside a technical sub-committee which will be charged with reviewing all former versions of the bill and come out with a draft within the next 30 days. The sub-committee is made up of top professionals in the industry to be chaired by Osten Olorunsola, current director of the DPR.
“The terms of reference of the special PIB task force will include amongst others; working with the technical committee and the office of the petroleum minister, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and minister of justice to produce a new copy of the bill for presentation to the National Assembly within the shortest possible time.
“And, of course, working with the National Assembly to facilitate the passage of the PIB into law, consult with various stakeholders to ensure that CSOs, labour and the media are carried along in terms of support for the transmission of PIB for the greater benefit of the people of Nigeria.”
She reminded the task force of the need for accountability to Nigerians in their new task.
“I think it goes without saying that as eminent citizens with great knowledge and wide experience, the entire country and ourselves are all expecting that you use your wisdom gained over many years of professionalism and services and of course your good offices to ensure that all perspectives are brought to bear in the making of this historic piece of legislation with great potential for the transformation of our industry and the nation,” she said.
Udoma, in his remarks, stated the resolve of the task force to commit to hard work in accelerating the passage of the bill.
According to him, “This is indeed a very important national duty and I thank the government for the confidence they have in us. It is quite a task that can be achieved and we will put in all our efforts, we will work hard and tirelessly because this is important for the nation.
"Our work is simply to focus attention on the need to move expeditiously to make sure that the bill is passed for the betterment of our people.”