CSOs urge Buhari, NASS to pass PIB in first 100 days

16 June 2015, Lagos – Rising from extensive deliberations on the state of affairs in the oil and gas sector, a coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have asked President Muhammadu Buhari and members of the eight national assembly to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) within their first 100 days in office.

The CSOs at the end of a weeklong workshop on governance in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector frowned on what they described as an “unpatriotic approach to the passage of the PIB” especially after it had gone unattended to in two different eras of government within eight years.

They organisations also asked the federal government to quickly initiate a phased divestment of its shares in upstream oil and gas Joint Venture (JV) operations, pointing out that the huge cash call debt obligation, which the JV has imposed on Nigeria was biting on her lean pocket.

The CSOs had met under the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) CSO steering committee. The committee by its responsibility seeks to exert reasonable pressure on the government and stakeholders to undertake remedial issues raised by NEITI in its extractive sectors audit reports.

“On PIB, CSOs are concerned that after eight years of legislative efforts to pass the bill into law and after incurring billions of naira, the bill has not been passed.

We therefore call on President Muhammadu Buhari and the eight National Assembly to demonstrate their patriotism and political will to promote transparency and accountability in the oil and gas sector by ensuring that the bill is passed and signed into law within the first 100 days of the life of this administration, to set a solid legal foundation for the new transparent fiscal and operational regimes of Nigeria oil and gas sector,” a communique signed by the chair of the committee, Faith Nwadishi read.

The communique further requested that: “The federal government should implement a phased divestment of its shares in the upstream oil and gas Joint Ventures.”

It said: “This call has become necessary in view of the huge cash call debt obligation which the JV arrangement has imposed on the nation’s lean resources.

This divestment will open the arrangement for private sector participation and enhance increased inflow of revenue to the federation. Above all, it will reduce the corrupt practices, wastes and other leakages associated with the management of the JVs over the years.”

They also urged the president investigate operations and management of Nigeria’s downstream petroleum sector, vis-à-vis, the petrol subsidy scheme.

“The corruption, of massive proportion, in the oil and gas sector, particularly the abuse of the petroleum subsidy regime and all oil and gas audit remediation issues, should be urgently and thoroughly investigated and addressed by the federal government.

We find it unacceptable that in two years (2011-2012) over N3.2 trillion was paid as subsidy as revealed by NEITI audit reports. We also call on all the NEITI Inter-Ministerial Task Team (IMTT) members to show more commitment in addressing all remediation issues including the unremitted $11.6 billion dividends paid by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) to NNPC on behalf of the federation.

We therefore call on a special presidential intervention on the nagging issue of the failure of the IMTT to carry out its mandate on remedial issues outlined by the NEITI audit reports,” it stated.

They also requested that the daily allocations of 445,000 barrels of crude oil to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for domestic refining be reviewed downwards in view of alleged claims by them that Nigeria’s four refineries operate around 20 per cent capacity utilsation.

“The allocation of crude oil beyond the refineries capacity to refine and which is subsequently exported and re-imported under swap and offshore processing arrangements, constitutes huge economic losses as it creates room for abuse and corruption.

Government should create enabling environment for private investment in building refineries. Meanwhile, Government should carry out the necessary turn-around maintenance of all refineries to make them operate at their optimum capacity and efficiency”, the CSOs added.

– This Day

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