.Pledge support for Dangote refinery
By Peter Uzoho
Members of the Senate and House of Representatives have said they are working round the clock to ensure the eventual passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) this year, assuring Nigerians that nothing can stop the passage of the legislation.
The two chambers of the National Assembly also expressed their support for the deregulation of the downstream sector of the Nigerian oil and gas industry, particularly the pricing of petrol.
Members of the National Assembly Joint Committees on PIB led by their Chairmen, Senator Sabo Mohammed (Senate) and Hon Mohammed Monguno (House of Representatives), respectively, who toured the Dangote Refinery, yesterday in Lagos, equally pledged the support of the legislature to the Dangote Group to ensure the successful completion of the refinery.
Speaking to journalists after the tour, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) and member of the PIB Committee, Senator Albert Bassey, said no challenge would make them not to pass the bill as planned.
He said the executive and the legislative arms as well as other stakeholders in the bill were all on the same page, adding that the legislature was engaging with the operators under the aegis of the Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) to make them come to terms with the need to have a good law for the industry.
“No challenges absolutely, because both the executive and the legislature and the stakeholders are on the same platform this time around. So, nothing can stop it. This is the only way to go for our country.
“We are engaging them (the OPTS) and at the end of the day, everybody will come to terms with the fact that we have a good law”, Bassey said.
He said the PIB was the only way to go for the country and for the industry, pointing out that the National Assembly wanted to make the oil and gas industry very competitive.
He noted that such law was needed to bring about massive investments in the industry with huge economic benefits to the nation as being displayed by the Dangote Group with the construction of the refinery.
According to him, the Dangote refinery showed 100 per cent local content in action and that, “for the first time, we can tell the whole world that Nigerians can do it even much better.”
Also speaking to journalists, Mohammed said they were working seriously to ensure the PIB was laid on the floor of the Senate and have it passed in the next two months, adding that their visit to the refinery was also connected to the bill.
“This PIB, we are going to do everything within our power to see that we lay it on the floor of the Senate in the next one and half month. So, give and take, we are looking at two months before we pass the PIB, maximum of two months. It could be less. But we are working day and night and definitely, we are going to see it through”, he said.
He said apart from the visit to Dangote refinery, the joint committee intended to visit the Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Warri refineries to factor in their observations into the PIB.
Mohammed, however, said he was totally overwhelmed by what he saw at the Dangote Refinery, noting that with such investment, deregulation of the downstream was definitely inevitable.
He stated that the deregulation would have to happen, whether it happens immediately or it takes a natural course as there was no two ways about it.
According to him, looking at the investment at the refinery, it was unbelievable that a single entity could confront that kind of project at this time of the nation’s economic life.
Mohammed maintained that apart from job creation, the Nigerian currency would be strengthened when the refinery came on stream.
He stated that building a refinery that would satisfy the whole of the country’s requirements in finished petroleum products by a single entity was a good omen for the economy, assuring that the National Assembly would give Aliko Dangote all the necessary support to bring the refinery to life.
“If you don’t help this industry, this refinery to come on stream, then, it means the Nigerian economy is going to be doomed. There are no two ways about it,” he added.
Similarly, Monguno, who is also the Chief Whip of the House, explained that the main purpose of introducing the PIB was to bring the Nigerian oil and gas industry in tandem with international best practices and make it more competitive.
Pointing out that the bill would help to attract the much needed investment into the industry, he stressed that the world was moving away from oil and gas towards renewable.
He said the situation calls for the maximisation of the oil and gas potentials in the remaining 10 to 20 years window for fossil fuel, saying hydrocarbon resources needed to be urgently exploited to address Nigeria’s infrastructural problems.
Monguno also said he was highly impressed by the foresight of the Dangote Group in bringing such a gigantic development to the country, stating that the massive structure would generate a lot of multiplier effect including job creation and revenue to government.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Gas, Senator James Manager, said the PIB would take care of all issues relating to making gas a perfect alternative to fuel.