Nigeria’s failure to legislate the proposed reforms in its oil and gas industry, particularly the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), has cost her an incredible $200 billion in investments.
Of the amount, the country lost $15 billion yearly in investments withheld or diverted by investors to different
+ countries because of uncertainty as investors do not know which rules guide their investments.
It also lost another $100billion potential earnings in five years, from 2010-2015 for inability to pass the PIB into law in 2009.
The Chairman, National PIB Committee of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Comrade Hyginus Chika Onuegbu who spoke with The Nation, lamented that while the country continues to dither over reforms in its critical oil and gas sector, Ghana, which just joined the Petroleum Club recently, passed its Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Bill, 2016 into law August 4, last year.
Onuegbu said Ghana made the law in a bid to attract investments. “It is instructive to note that Ghana started and completed its own PIB in less than two years,” he said.
He deplored that since the introduction of the first PIB in 2007, politics, intrigues, controversies and other dynamics have made it impossible for the bill to be passed into law even after public hearings.
The PIB, which began in 2007, was expected to produce a dynamic policy framework for massive reforms in the oil & gas industry. The reforms were expected to form the nucleus of Nigeria’s aspiration to become one of the most industrialised nations in the world by the year 2020.
For the country to realise this dream, it was envisaged that the major source of revenue to the Federation Account, the oil & gas sector, must be repositioned for greater efficiency, openness, and competition built on corporate governance as obtained in other resource-rich nations.
Sadly, the PIB, which is the vehicle to achieving these goals, is yet to be passed into law, with Onuegbu expressing worries that the industry and the economy will continue to lose with its non-passage.
“We expect the PIB to drive sustained growth in the development of our local refining capacity, end the regime of importation of refined petroleum products and ultimately usher in Nigeria as an exporter of refined petroleum products,” he said.
Onuegbu said the fact remains that there are great opportunities that will arise if the PIB is properly articulated and crafted in the best interest of the country.
“I expect that the passage of the PIB will unlock new investments in the petroleum industry as investors will be willing to invest in the Nigerian oil and gas sector since they will then know the terms and conditions for such investments,” he added.
Onuegbu said these gains and opportunities are only possible if the executive arm of government, the National Assembly and indeed, all Nigerians put interest of Nigeria and her petroleum industry above personal and sectional interests.
“Without an organised and sustained fight for the economic emancipation of Nigeria through the passage of the PIB that places national interest above personal and sectional interest, all efforts to revitalise the economy will end up as a mirage and unsustainable,” Onuegbu said.