Stakeholders have called on the federal government to ensure openness, transparency and wide-range inclusion in the process leading to the enactment of a legislation for the petroleum industry in Nigeria.
The stakeholders particularly tasked the National Assembly to “speedily prioritise action on the PIB in a manner that builds and sustains citizen trust and takes into account the varied interests of all stakeholders while making the desired fixes in the petroleum industry.”
These demands were part of highlights of a high-level webinar on Post COVID-19 Petroleum Agenda for Nigeria (PoCoPAN) convened by OrderPaper Nigeria in collaboration with Public What You Pay Nigeria and dotCivics, which held recently.
A communiqué signed by Oke Epia, Executive Director, OrderPaper Nigeria and convener of PoCoPAN, said “the urgent enactment of a Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) through a transparent and inclusive process; and an explicit definition of and long-term resolution of the petroleum subsidy question must involve exhaustive citizen engagement.”
The webinar, which had in attendance renowned speakers like Hon. Henry Nwawuba, Deputy Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta; Mr. Peter Esele, former President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC); and Prof. Remi Sonaiya, thought leader, academic and politician, resolved on a 10-points plan of action to take advantage of the covid-19 pandemic to reform the petroleum industry.
The meeting, which drew participants from different walks of life including the petroleum industry, academia, health sector, legislature, civil society and the media, also focused on the petroleum subsidy removal issue and resolved that “the subsidy question must necessarily focus on a transparent application of savings accruable from its removal as a way of further building trust between citizens and government.”
The PoCoPAN forum stressed that the “mechanisms of removal must be extensively deliberated on so as to ensure clarity of purpose given the “prevailing trust deficit between citizens and government which has hampered sincere social contracting and subsequent engagements and has in turn, created gaps in transparency and accountability in public service delivery.”
The stakeholders, however, called on citizens to “engage using evidence-based rather than emotionally driven inclinations” and advised that “advocacy groups, civil society organisations and other engagement clusters should look inwards for solutions that enhance the greater good of the nation and be wary of obtrusive external influences.
The stakeholders also resolved that in seeking “local solutions to the nation’s epileptic refining capacity, artisanal refining should be discouraged in place of promoting easy-entry regulations that can facilitate inclusion of small players into the midstream of the petroleum sector” while stating that the “potentials of gas as the ‘new oil’ need to be given urgent priority.”