National Assembly Finally Passes PIGB, Transmits to President for Assent

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  • NNRC seeks speedy presidential assent Chineme Okafor in Abuja 

After almost 18 years of been in the woods without clear consideration by successive governments and the legislature, President Muhammadu Buhari, has finally received the harmonised copy of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) from the National Assembly for assent into law, THISDAY learnt from the Nigerian Natural Resource Charter (NNRC) yesterday.

It was gathered that he PIGB was sent to Buhari on Wednesday by the assembly. The NNRC thus called on the president to assent to the bill as soon as possible to enable reforms in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector kick off immediately.

The assembly had in March 2018, harmonised the PIGB which is expected to introduce new reforms in the governance of the oil industry. The PIGB would also bring up new regulatory agencies in the industry, as well as reform the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) into a commercially viable entity.

The omnibus Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) from which the PIGB was carved out had passed through many executive and legislative challenges without success. At a point the bill was close to been passed by the seventh National Assembly after it was re-introduced by the government of former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, but could not go through before its tenure ended.

In March, NNRC disclosed that Nigeria may have lost over $235 billion due to its inability to conclude work on the bill. It also said Nigeria was no longer as competitive globally or even within the continent of Africa, stressing that comparatively, over the last five years; Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana have all passed their respective petroleum sector bills in 2012, 2016, 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Similarly, to make it easier to be passed, the 8th National Assembly decided to break the omnibus Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into three – the PIGB; Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill; and Petroleum Industry Host Communities Bill. The PIGB was then passed and the remaining two expected to be passed by the assembly next.

In response to the transmission of the bill to the President, the Programme Coordinator for NNRC, Tengi George-Ikoli, stated that the responsibility of getting the bill into a law now rests with Buhari.

“With the transmission of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill to the President, the onus now rests on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to demonstrate his commitment to petroleum sector reforms for the benefit of the Nigerian people and assent to the bill with immediate effect. 

“The requisite petroleum sector institutions must also prepare to support the seamless transition and implementation of the bill once passed,” said George-Ikoli.

Similarly, the Nigerian Association for Energy Economics (NAEE) last week called on Buhari to quickly assent to the bill before he starts off his campaign for re-election in 2019.

Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has denied having any entrenched interest in an Oil Mining License (OML) 11, as recently claimed by an organisation called the Ken Saro Wiwa Associates (KSWA).

Kachikwu, in a statement sent to THISDAY by the Director of Press in the ministry, Mr. Idang Alibi, said he had no conversation with oil firm, Chevron, on the oil block.