The continued delay in passing the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) into law is not in the best interest of the industry in particular, and the country’s economic development in general, so says the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC). According to the NNRC, early presidential assent to the PIGB would open the doors for accelerated passage of the remaining components of the Petroleum Industry Bills (PIBs) which are yet to be passed by the National Assembly. Moreso, it will help improve Nigeria’s investment potential and the business climate especially in the oil and gas industry.

The NNRC posits that Nigerians from all walks of life and stakeholders in the oil and gas industry should push for greater awareness and public enlightenment on the consequences of the delay in passing the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) into law. This call comes against the backdrop of the refusal of the President to Assent to the Bill citing areas of contention in the Bill. To this end, the NNRC held a Roundtable on Petroleum Sector Reforms on the 6th of September 2018 aimed to addressing issues arising from the delay.

At the event, the NNRC conducted a session with key stakeholders and members of its Experts Advisory Panel (EAP) to consider the reasons by the Presidency for refusal of assent of the PIGB and to revise its advocacy strategy if necessary.

Speaking on the issue, the Chairman of Expert Advisory Panel (EAP) of the NNRC and Former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia noted that the oil and gas industry is in dire need of reforms. “The passage of the PIGB by the National Assembly after about 18 years is proof that the “political class” recognises the urgent need for reforms in the industry”.

In similar vein, Mrs. Ronke Onadeko, member, Experts Advisory Panel (EAP) warned that the PIGB is such an important piece of legislation requiring every attention from the government. She expressed surprise that a piece of legislation that took an entire 18 years is still being delayed, noting that it shows that the government is yet to realize the importance of such a law to the economy of this country. She however pointed out that “the level of collaboration between the Senate and the House of Representatives should be emulated between the legislature and the executive to move the oil and gas sector forward by getting the President to assent to the bill”.

She pointed out that reforms and improvement across the sector can yield better improved management of our natural resources thus added financial and non financial benefits to the country and her citizens. The Petroleum Industry Bills according to her, will among other things help engender stronger institutions and weaker discretionary powers, and usher in accountability to government spending, receipts and income. Above all, it will lead to transparency of contracts and processes to support accountability to citizens. The importance of speedy passage of the relevant laws required to reposition the sector towards increasing revenue generation, inflow of investments, job creation and improved governance of the industry cannot be over emphasized.