Deepen Extractive Sector Reforms, Assent Transmitted PIGB, Govt Urged

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  • Group wants illegal mining activities checked

Kasim Sumaina, Tayo Olaleye in Abuja and Bassey Inyang in Calabar

A civil society organisation, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, has urged the Federal Government to deepen its reforms in the extractive sector.

President Muhammadu Buhari was also enjoined to urgently assent to the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, which has been transmitted to his office by the National Assembly.

CISLAC, which revealed that it had observed the state of affairs in the extractive sector in the past four months, stated that the reforms initiated by the present administration have been slow and are not deep enough.

The Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa aka Rafsanjani made the disclosure in Abuja recently, while briefing the press on the state of the vital sector in Nigeria.

According to him, “We note the high expectations heralded by the anti-corruption stance of the government and numerous promises made during the electoral campaigns, including commitments to address corruption in the oil and gas sector through drastic reforms, plugging of leakages, passing of the Petroleum Industry Bill into law and implementing recommendations from the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) audit reports.

“We observed that after three years in government, most of these promises remain unfulfilled. We note some efforts made to reorganise the NNPC to make it more profitable, the efforts by the NNPC to become more open by publishing monthly transaction reports, the development and launching with so much fanfare of the 7 Big Wins and the review of the oil and gas policies, among several steps taken. These, though commendable, have not translated to real reforms.”

Rafsanjani, represented by CISLAC Programme Manager, (Environment and Conservation of Nature) Kolawole Banwo, said, “We further observed that these efforts have not gone deep enough to create the changes and facilitate reforms badly needed in the sector. We further say that the implementation is progressing at such slow speed that is at variance with the urgency needed in the sector.”

Banwo also noted that, “Beyond the PIGB, other legislations which are critical for efficiency in the sector and touch on the interest of oil producing communities have remained elusive.

“We also note that the NNPC, that is reported to have paid itself the sum of N216 billion in 2017 as subsidy or under-recovery captured as operational cost, cannot be said to have been reformed in any substantial way. It still continues to play the role of regulator and operator with its attendant challenges.”

He explained that CISLAC further observed that several of the specific commitments to the Open Government Partnership (OGP) such as information disclosure across the value chain of the sector, open contacting and beneficial ownership of oil licences, also remain elusive.

“We therefore, urge the federal government to devote substantial part of its remaining time in the office, to expediting progress and deepening reforms in the extractive sector.

“We call on the President to urgently assent to the PIGB that has been transmitted to his office by the National Assembly. This will strengthen governance and promote strong and independent regulation of the sector,” said Banwo.
Meanwhile, the Council of Nigerian Mining Engineers and Geoscientists (COMEG) has tasked the federal government to stop the activities of illegal miners in the country.

The Council said the call was necessary in order to protect the environment, and the lives of Nigerians from such illegal mining, which is associated with quacks that have infiltrated the nation’s mining industry.

President, Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society, Prof. Silas Dada, made the call while speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a week-long professional development training on Water Well Drilling in Soft Rock Environment organised by COMEG and the Geocardinal Engineering Services Limited (GESL) held in Calabar, Cross River State recently.

Dada said with the way people drill boreholes indiscriminately, the obstruction rate would be too high, and it would have a major pressure problem on the environment.

“When drilling is anyhow, there are issues. You must drill correctly. When you are dealing with quacks, they would not do correct geophysical study, and then the job is wrongly done leading to consequences. Disaster can happen at any time without expertise.”
Dada said Nigerians living wherever such expertise is not applied are at risk from water from boreholes by such quacks.

Also, the Chairman COMEG, Godspower Okpoi, said, “for instance when it comes to borehole drilling, there is supposed be a form of spacing between where you have the sewage storage and where you drill your borehole. If you have quacks here they may not comply and the sewage would seep into your water and that is what you will be drinking. But a professional would not have that kind of problem.
“COMEG is trying in its way to stop quacks. We are doing what we can to ensure that only licensed people can drill. We would still do more. You have to be COMEG-registered to drill.

Project Consultant with GESL, Titi Adeyemo, added that, “There are so many technicalities involved, and expertise must be observed. That is why COMEG deems it fit that problems like these are coming up and they have to put up this kind of training for the stakeholders around this place that are doing well water drilling, for them to be conversant with the problems and to know how to go about it.”