Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The House of Representatives and the Nigerian Law Reform Commission are initiating fresh moves to resuscitate the debate on the botched Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
The debate will draw lessons from the failure of the attempts by both the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan and the 7th National Assembly to ensure the successful passage of Petroleum Industry Bill.
Addressing journalists in Abuja monday, Technical Assistant on Petroleum Industry Reform to the House of Representatives, Mr. Oracle Nwala, said the House of Representatives would organise a national summit on petroleum industry reform to ensure “the passage of appropriate legal framework for the management and development of the petroleum industry of Nigeria.”
He said the event which is to hold at the International Conference Centre between June 12 and 15 was part of the moves by the House to revisit the process of petroleum industry reform rather than lament over the failure of the PIB.
Noting that work had already commenced on the new PIB, he said: “The House of Representatives, rather than whinge, whine and whimper, has decided to be proactive, to revisit the process of petroleum industry reform, and to work towards the successful enactment of laws that will regulate the Nigerian petroleum industry, in accordance with the rule of law, good governance, and due process; for the sustainable development of Nigerians and the total advancement of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“It is the conviction of the House of Representatives and its leadership that the reform of the petroleum industry is a vital necessity, if Nigeria is to realise its God-given potential. For a country that depends on revenues from petroleum industry, there is no alternative to reform.
“In keeping with the commitment of the House of Representatives to pass a robust legislation that will cater to the topical issues in the Nigerian Petroleum industry with a view to promoting global best practice, the House of Representatives has initiated work on a new PIB.”
He expressed regret that the nation did not take full advantage of the enormous petroleum Nigeria was blessed.
He said Nigeria oil industry comprising both the upstream and downstream sectors were currently operating under a practically no-existent legal framework.
He said the legal system on the oil industry was “outdated, anachronistic, and out-of-sync with international best practices.”
He said some of the current the primary laws being the Petroleum Act of 1969, and the Petroleum Profits Tax Act 1958 were no longer in sync with technological advances for decades.
He added: “Legal reform, which is the bedrock of meaningful restructuring of the industry, is thus a dire necessity.
“Unfortunately, it has not happened, even though activities towards reform have been taking place since 2000.
“For reasons which will be made apparent in the course of this Summit, these activities have ended up in failure, evidenced by the non-enactment of either the Petroleum Industry Bills of 2008 and 2012, which were before the 6th and 7th National Assemblies respectively.
“In the meantime, the situation in the petroleum industry and Nigeria’s sustainable development, have progressively worsened.
“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’ and is seen as synonymous with what is known as ‘the resource curse’. While some other countries have benefitted from their petroleum resources, Nigeria has not.”