James Emejo in Abuja
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, on Tuesday emphasised that only the local refining of crude oil could guarantee permanent solution to the perennial and embarrassing fuel scarcity in the country.
He said local refining will make fuel available and easily accessible to all Nigerians, adding that every other measure to put an end to the recurring problem of fuel scarcity will always be temporarily.
Speaking when he received the executive members of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) in his office, he said while consultation is ongoing on the part of leadership at different strata, the results will only achieve temporary relief until refineries are functioning enough to refine crude locally to meet the demand of Nigerians.
His remarks came on a day the lower chamber at plenary, passed a motion mandating its Committees on Local Content and Legislative compliance to investigate allegations of gross neglect of host communities and breach of local content laws against Total E&P Nigeria Limited.
The committees are to examine the allegations and the local content components of the projects in the affected areas with a view to ensuring that the company include the youth of Andoni in its recruitment process of both graduate and non-graduate staff, award contracts to Andoni indigenes, embark upon capacity building and community development projects and report back within six weeks for further legislative action.
However, Dogara, during the meeting with the visiting PENGASSAN officials said: â€œUnless we are able to refine crude locally, we will never be in a position as a nation to say bye to fuel scarcity and that is the truth. Anyone who thinks we can depend on importation and still solve this problem is deceiving himself.
â€œYou see, when you import, you are depending on so many variables. These variables are not within your control and anything can happen along the line that may result in this. The solution is to refine crude locally and end this shame once and for all. â€œThe final solution will be to refine this crude, put it in the filing station and say bye to fuel scarcity.â€
The speaker also called for capacity building for workers to discharge the responsibility to yield optimal results.
While thanking PENGASSAN for taking the right path by engaging with legislators on areas of concern on developments in the petroleum sector, he noted that dialogue between citizens in the form of associations, unions and civil society groups, and the legislature, will deepen the process of democracy by making the government more responsive to their demands.
He further assured them that the House and the Senate are jointly working on the remaining components of the Petroleum Industry Bill to ensure that their passage are expedited.
He also advised them to take the opportunity of the joint public hearing of both petroleum committees of the National Assembly to make their input to the Bill.
Earlier, president of PENGASSAN, Francis Olabode Johnson, commended the House for its effort at ensuring accountability and transparency in the oil and gas industry, as well as the National Assembly for passing the PIGB.
He said the fuel scarcity Nigerians are experiencing is embarrassing and urged the lower chamber to collaborate with them on finding a sustainable way to end the crisis and prevent a resurgence by revamping and rehabilitating the nationâ€™s refineries with timelines and strategies that will lead to adequate and sustainable crude supply.
The PENGASSAN president also asked that all difficulties associated with importation of refined products into the country should be addressed along with enhancement of infrastructural facilities, while appealing to the lawmakers for support for initiatives that will lead to job creation and improved security.
Meanwhile, the House resolution on Total E&P followed a motion sponsored by Hon. Awaji-Inombek Abiante (PDP, Rivers) on call for investigation of the activities of Total E&P Nigeria Limited on the deliberate neglect, underdevelopment and abandonment of its corporate legal responsibilities under the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act (NOGICD), 2010.
Among other things, he said: â€œOut of over 50 contractors and sub-contractors that worked for Total in establishing the platform and are still working for it in its operations, not one was or is of Andoni extraction contrary to the provisions of Section 3(2), 25, 26, 27, and 28 of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act, 2010.
â€œOfficial government records confirm that from 1990 when it established the Amenam/Kpono platform till date, spanning over 27 years of continuous oil and gas extraction and operation, Total E&P Ltd. has not executed cumulative developmental projects worth up to N200million in towns of the host communities, despite the profit of billions of dollars from its operations in the communities.â€
Also yesterday, a House ad hoc committee summoned the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi over the crisis rocking the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Akwa Ibom State.
The committee, chaired by Hon. Yuguda Hassan Kila (APC, Jigawa) is investigating the circumstances that led to the ministerâ€™s decision to appoint a six-man interim management committee to manage the affairs of the academy.
Itâ€™s also looking at the restructuring plan and the activities of the interim committee as well as the legality of the ministerâ€™s action.
Also summoned alongside the minister are the chairman of the interim committee, Chief Adebayo Sarumi and the acting rector of the academy, Duja Effedua.
The academy has been without a substantive rector since 2015.
In separate letters of summon to Amaechi, Sarumi and Effedua, the ad hoc panel asked the trio to appear before it unfailingly on February 27 to respond to some questions.
The House, in a motion last year said the ministerâ€™s decision was against the provisions of the Act establishing the academy as he lacks the powers to do so.