14 March 2015, Abuja – The Director-General, D-G, of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, Mr. Benjamin DiKki, has appealed to the National Assembly for the immediate passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB. Speaking against the backdrop of the current fuel crisis,
Mr. Dikki said a liberalised Petroleum and Gas sector would give private foreign and local investors “confidence to participate in oil exploration, refining and other associated services, with multiplier effects in employment generation and general growth in the economy”.
He said in an interview in Abuja that with the passage of the PIB, investors would take advantage of the huge potentials in the Oil and Gas sector through which the economy’s diversification would become a reality.
The local content provision in the PIB is major reason why the oil producing communities have consistently urged the National Assembly to pass that piece of legislation which has been argued would mark an unprecedented participation of Nigerians in the petroleum sector. That piece of legislation would also guarantee the operation of private sector investors in the refinery sub-sector which would end the embarrassing situation in which Nigeria, a major crude oil exporter depends on other countries for refined products.
However, vested interests have frustrated the Bill’s passage over the years. Mr. Dikki expressed delight with the transmission of the eight reform Bills by the Federal Executive Council, FEC, to the National Assembly and expressed optimism that the Bills would be passed within this Legislative year.
The BPE boss noted that the transport sector was another area that has huge potentials for the Nigerian economy. When the reform bills are passed, they would open up investments in road transport, inland waterways and railways.
He said Nigeria at present has 193,000 kilometres of Federal roads which would be broken into concession lots.
”When these Bills are passed, roads will be concessioned and their maintenance done by concessionaires as against the present practice of depending on the Federal budget”.
“The inefficient transport delivery system in the country at present, adds to the cost of doing business in Nigeria. When these Bills are passed, there will be massive investments in the sector. Now that the Bills are with the National Assembly, I believe they would be passed before the tenure of the seventh National Assembly expires in June 2015. I appeal to investors to take advantage of the opportunity and come forward to invest in the sector”, the D-G said.
He said that all the reforms carried out by the Bureau, such as in telecoms, power and pensions have been remarkable and have impacted positively on the Nigerian economy.
“Recall that before the reforms in telecoms, Nigeria had 450,000 fixed lines but at present, there are 135million GSM lines. An investment of about $235bn is planned by investors to keep pace with the evolving technology in the sector.
“For the pension reform, life has now become easier for pensioners in Nigeria. About N4trn pension funds enable banks to give long-term loans. For power, Nigerians are experiencing stable power supply while the generation companies have so far invested N200-N300 million to upgrade infrastructure”, Mr. Dikki said.