The Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC) delivered its media training for energy correspondents on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) on Wednesday, 18 July, 2018 at Alpha Plus Apartments. Media Associations; Media Initiative Transparency in Extractive Industry (MITEI), the National Association of Energy Correspondents (NAEC) and ECAN participated in the training. Participants were drawn from traditional and online media representing correspondents engaged in reportage of the PIB.

The petroleum sector is critical to the prosperity of the Nigerian economy and as such it requires the most attention and diligence. Regrettably, this sector is often shrouded with secrecy and misinformation. Key issues critical to an improved petroleum sector; governance, remittance and licensing would be resolved by the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill. At the meeting, the Program Coordinator of the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC); Ms. Tengi George-Ikoli assessed the proposed Petroleum Industry Bills (PIBs) against the NNRC Benchmarking Exercise Report (BER) scores which have been mostly poor over the past 5 years. She determined that passage of the bills would increase Nigeria’s competitiveness against the continuously expanding list of oil producing countries.

Mr. Osten Olorunsola; former Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and member of the Expert Advisory Panel (EAP) of the NNRC and Dr. Adeoye Adefulu; both members of the PIB drafting committee provided background on the PIB, breaking down the objectives and proposed reforms proposed by the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), the Petroleum Industry Administration Bill (PIAB) and the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill (PIFB).

To achieve this critical reform, Mr. Olorunsola recounted that the issues in the industry were first identified. This was also agreed on by foreign investors that the first issue to address is the governance aspect of the sector, characterized by poor management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), deficiencies in transparency and accountability mechanisms. The most critical challenges experienced in the industry are around revenue, investments, governance, regulations and policies. He stated further that Nigeria has profound losses in revenue of over 150 Billion US dollars. Other issues include metering, converting gas to power, and continuous payments of subsidy on petrol are earnestly begging for long term solutions. The PIFB ensures legislative and fiscal elements are well described, defining relationships between the mineral owners and the oil companies. It is also used to determine equitably how cost is recovered and how profits are shared for effective fiscal management relationships.

Dr. Adefulu provided a brief background of the PIAB, and how it seeks to enhance value creation in the petroleum industry, and to optimize regulatory framework in a bid to avoid arbitrary decision making.

Ms. Victoria Ohaeri; Executive Director of Spaces for Change and an advocate for host community rights delivered a presentation on the Petroleum Host and Impacted Communities Development Bill (PHICDB). Breaking down the key objectives of the bill and the transition process once passed; she explained the benefits of the bill while identifying opportunities for reform. In her presentation, she recognized that this was the first ever attempt to transfer the benefits of oil production directly to the host communities, that the bill ensured continuity and strengthened legal protection for community rights to development. On the other hand, she identified some gaps to be addressed in the bill to ensure this bill achieves its stated objective of enhancing peaceful and harmonious coexistence between settlers and host communities. The bill as it currently stands, she observed; could benefit from gender consideration, youth inclusion, responsibilities for local governments, environmental protections etc.

The participants resolved that though the bill was not perfect, it was important to engage the National Assembly to address the gaps in the existing bills and ensure speedy passage before the conclusion of the 8th Assembly. All agreed that advocacy around the Assent of the PIGB should be doubled; as 18 years for petroleum sector reforms is too long and should not go any further.