02 February 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS – The British Government has offered to assist Nigeria with technical capacity to fast track the passage into law of the protracted Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Making the offer through one of its development agencies, Facility for Oil Sector Transparency (FOSTER), which is supervised by the Department of Foreign International Development (DFID), Britain said its offer is to ensure a more effective and efficient petroleum industry in Nigeria.
The Team Leader of FOSTER in Nigeria, Mr. Lai Yahaya, who made the offer at a PIB roundtable in Lagos, Wednesday, also said the move was meant to ensure that the petroleum law that would eventually evolve will be at par with “international best practice, and most importantly, meet the needs and aspirations of ordinary Nigerians.”
Accordingly, he said the British agency is willing to “provide technical assistance and capacity building to key actors involved in the legislation.”
He revealed that part of the strategy was to achieve set targets through demand-driven support to local initiatives, agencies and organisations, as well as adapting relevant international standard setting and best practice initiative such as the National Resource Charter (NRC) and the Open Government Partnership (OGP).
Since the PIB did not scale through the sixth National Assembly, stakeholders have expressed concern over the future of the industry, especially as the petroleum sector is the bedrock of the Nigerian economy.
As a result, part of the FOSTER package is to support improvements in the management of oil sector, given the revelations from ongoing industry probes through a host of innovative steps anchored on technical analysis and policy advocacy.
Yahaya, therefore, maintained that the PIB is critical to the reform of the petroleum sector, adding that the quick passage of the bill “improve governance and strengthen transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.”
He added that the passage of the bill will also reduce the avenues for abuse of power and capture all revenues, which currently distort policy and politics in Nigeria and undermine the potential for oil revenues to be used to accelerate economic and social development.
Speaking at the event, Prof Dafe Otobo from the University of Lagos, argued that the privatisation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), one of the key issues stakeholders are canvassing for in the reform, has remained a myth
because of the intrigues that have plagued the sector.
“Privatisation of NNPC is not going to happen because issues that are been thrown up are so fundamental more than the government can handle,” he said.
Saheed Kolawole, who represented the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), noted that the non-passage of the bill has continued to stall fresh investments in the industry.
“Because of the uncertainty of the PIB I can tell you that not one of the multinationals is investing in the oil and gas sector. What is stopping them from building refineries here and creating more jobs for our people? It is because of the non-passage of the PIB,” he asserted.