Nume Ekeghe and Ugo Aliogo
BudgIT, a civic organisation has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to focus on oil and gas sector reforms in his second term.
The call was made in a statement yesterday.
President Buhari had last August declined assent to the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) passed by the National Assembly.
The statement noted that the PIGB would liberalise the governance structure of the oil industry, strengthen institutions and entrench transparency, “for these critical reforms, we ask that the Bill should be reconsidered.”
“Also demanding dire attention is the issue of beneficial ownership. BudgIT notes that a lot of oil companies seem to operate under fake identities. A lasting example is the case of Malabu Oil Scandal in which Dan Etete, petroleum minister under the Abacha regime, acquired ‘OPL 245’ through Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, a camouflage of his personal company, to perpetuate one of the biggest frauds in the history of Nigeria’s oil sector,” the statement said.
Akorede in the statement said from the analysis of the organisation, it was revealed that NEITI’s last audit report showed losses arising from crude oil theft and sabotage in the upstream and downstream sectors amounted to $869.02 million and $3.55 billion respectively in 2016.
The Principal lead, BudgIT noted that if the sector was properly structured, the whopping amount that goes down the drain, courtesy of these lapses, would contribute to the economic recovery and growth plan of the government.
The statement further noted that lack of transparency and accountability has remained the biggest challenge in the sector, adding that addressing the challenge, ensures building capacity and development of effective business models that are profit-driven, and calls for decisive reforms can no longer be ignored.
“More so, we strongly believe that the reforms will go a long way in enhancing good governance and processes that are flexible to the peculiarities of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry,” the statement added.