Chika Amanze-Nwachuku
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has again called for expeditious passage of the remaining components of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), in order to attract significant new investments into the oil and gas sector.

CISLAC Executive Director (ED), Auwal Musa, who made the call over the weekend in Lagos, decried the continued delay in the passage of the bill, which has been in the works for 17 years. He pointed out that the delay was causing a lot of uncertainties in the oil and gas industry.

The advocacy group ED, however commended the National Assembly for passing one of the components of the bill – the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), which contains the restructuring and reformation of the nation’s oil and gas industry and prayed for its harmonisation by both chambers and its assent by the executive arm without further delay.

He traced the PIB to 2000, when the Oil and Gas Reform Implementation Committee (OGIC), Chaired by the late former oil minister, Rilwan Lukman, recommended a policy for reforming the sector following the need to separate the commercial institutions in the sector from the regulatory and policy- making institutions.

“The government reconstituted OGIC in 2007 and mandated it to set up legal, regulatory and institutional structures for managing the oil and gas sector in the line with the National Oil and Gas Policy. The recommendation in 2008 formed the basis of the first draft PIB submitted to the NASS.
“The failure to pass the Bill led to the constitution of a federal inter-agency team to review the Bill. The team’s report was submitted in 2010. The Senate and the House of Representatives submitted different Bills in 2011. Since then, a law has been elusive.

This administration promised to pass it into law if voted into power, during the electioneering campaign in 2015. The executive and NASS at the highest levels have reiterated this severally. At the resumption from recess of the sessions of each chamber, it is placed on the agenda. The Oil Sector Roadmap (7 Big Wins) projected to have passed it since December 2016”, he recalled.

The bill was spilt into three- Petroleum Industry Institution Framework Governance Bill, (PIGB), Petroleum Industry Fiscal Framework Bill and Petroleum Host Community Development Bill by the current National Assembly. The PIGB has been passed by both chambers awaiting harmonisation and presidential assent. The other components have passed second reading at the House of Representatives.
Musa said Nigeria will continue to lose billions of dollars in fresh investments in the petroleum sector as a result of uncertainties created by the delay in the passage of the bill.

On the other hand, he listed the huge benefits that will accrue to the country if all the components of the bill are signed into law to include increased revenues from improved government take; increased investment across the value chain in the sector that will stimulate increase in exploration and production to facilitate fresh discoveries and reserves.

The oil industry bill, if passed into law, will propel diversification, job creation and local content and participation in the sector. It will provide for better environment management and health and safety practices; commercially viable and professionally run national oil company devoid of political interference.

Besides, there will be strong and independent regulatory institutions to promote transparency and accountability and well protected, safer and more peaceful host communities that encourage friendly operational and business environments and guaranty output targets for government and profitability for investors.