By Ali Smart
Even as Nigeria awaits the planned implementation of the new ‘Petroleum Industry Governance and Institutional Framework Bill 2015’, indications are that it is already having a rippled effect in the nation’s oil and gas sector.
One man who should know better is Oluwaseyi Gambo, immediate past National Public Relations Officer of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN).
Speaking in an interview with Ripples, Gambo said it was disheartening to note that the new bill, if fully operational, would cause more harm than good to the sector.
While commenting on the estimated number of jobs at risk if the new draft PIB is implemented, Gambo said: “As we speak, all sectors in the Nigeria oil and gas industry have lost between 18-20 percent of her work force. Many more workers would still be lost if the government and unions do not move fast to nip the current inferno in the bud.”
The nation’s oil and gas industry, the former PENGASSAN image maker observed, has been haemorrhaging for the past three years due to prevarication and lack of political will by the immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan government in collaboration with the National Assembly to handle some pressing issues in the industry like crude theft and vandalism. “No single prosecution for oil theft, while nobody was sanctioned in the different probes on subsidy scam”.
Going down memory lane, he recalled that: “This was not what former President Olusegun Obasanjo envisaged when the OGIC committee was instituted which gave birth to PIB. In fact, if successive presidents have continued in the Obasanjo spirit, the industry won’t be in the mess we have found ourselves today, and Nigeria would have been better for it.”
Post PIB in the oil and gas industry, he stressed, would have been positioned to be more competitive. “The environment now is so dynamic and volatile that we are not even talking of competing with what the price of crude is saying in the international market, the unexpected export drive of the United States, Saudi Arabia trying to strangulate the financial muscle of ISIS etc, what we have now is a case of survival.”
Gambo, who is the Founder and Convener, The Good Governance Group, said: “If the Bill had been passed years ago as some of us warned repeatedly, the industry would have passed the teething stage now, then what was being made put to good use. I wonder what the former Senate president, who was characteristically boasting then that the IOCs can’t dictate to Nigeria how much she will sell her oil will say now. It was never the issue of IOCs but what Nigeria wants. A bill as important as PIB in the National Assembly for close to nine years and you think the whole world will be waiting for us?”
The one-time member of the Petroleum Equalization Fund (Management) Board, who lamented that the nation was suffering from the mistakes of bad leadership, said most of the countries have used what they got from oil to strengthen other sectors where they have comparative advantages.
The PIB, a framework for the management of the petroleum sector has been hotly debated since the idea was mooted in 2000 with successive members of the upper and lower legislative chambers unable to pass the bill into law.
But some of the changes reportedly made to the new Bill include amongst others, curtailment of Ministerial powers, the splitting of NNPC into two separate entities: the Nigeria Petroleum Assets Management Company (NPAM) and a National Oil Company (NOC).
The NOC will be an “integrated oil and gas company, operating as a fully commercial entity” and will run like a private company. It will keep its revenues, deduct costs directly and pay dividends to the government, thus putting an end to the era of waiting for Federal allocation for funding and always failing to meet cash call obligations.
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