Nigeria: House opens investigations into oil prospecting, mining licenses

*Nigeria's House of Representatives.

*Nigeria’s House of Representatives.

25 March 2016, Abuja — The House of Representatives has set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the processes of the award of Oil Prospecting Licences (OPL) and Oil Mining Licences (OML) to all its beneficiaries.

The House said the investigation is necessary as the processes were discovered to be flawed, thereby shortchanging the country.

The House Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, while speaking when he inaugurated the committee yesterday, said the House was committed to its demand for accountability of national resources.

The committee is chaired by Hon. Gideon Gwani (Kaduna APC).

Dogara, who was represented by the Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor added that it was necessary to determine whether due process was followed in the award of the OPL and OML.

“Our duty as a House is to make sure that the right is done always. It is the responsibility of this committee to find out how many companies follow due process as well as find out the modalities for the award,” Ogor said.

The committee’s terms of reference include to ascertain the total number of OPLs and OMLs granted; ascertain their expiry dates, in addition to ascertaining whether due process and guidelines for the acquisition of oil and gas assets were complied with.

Gwani, in his address, expressed regret that the oil and gas sector continues to fall short of expectations despite efforts by successive governments to ensure its revitalisation.

“Some unpatriotic and unscrupulous elements within the country with the active connivance of some desperate expatriates are undermining such efforts by flouting the due process and guidelines for acquisition of OPLs and OMLs. This unhealthy development is a tragedy that must be stopped and perpetrators brought to book if we are to make the very sector attractive so as to compete favourably with the rest of the world,” he said.

Gwani added that the legislature cannot afford to fold its arms, especially with the dwindle in the price of crude oil and its attendant consequences on the country’s economy.

“One of the measures is to get the accurate records and data of all the companies or individuals that have been granted OPLs or OMLs for exploration, with a view of ascertaining if they are operating within the ambit of the law and set guidelines,” he said.
*Damilola Oyedele – Thisday

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