***As Senate begins public hearing on bill
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) presently before the National Assembly will ensure that Nigerians benefit optimally from crude oil production and sale of fossil fuel reserves.
Lawan stated this on Monday while declaring open a 2-day public hearing on the bill by the National Assembly.
According to the Senate President, the National Assembly in its consideration of the piece of legislation, would ensure that the bill when passed into law, guarantees improved revenue earnings for the country.
Lawan said, “let me say this, we (National Assembly) will pass this bill not without ensuring that it is a bill that satisfies certain conditions.
“Nigeria is blessed with these resources, we want Nigeria to benefit optimally from them. In fact, we are in a hurry because we have lost so many years of benefits that we could have had.”
The Senate President, however, noted that the non-passage of the PIB had been a major drag on the industry over the years, significantly limiting its ability to attract both local and foreign capital at a time when many other countries are scrambling to exploit their oil and gas resources.
“The mere knowledge that the nation’s oil industry is still being governed by laws enacted more than 50 years ago is ludicrous and extremely disappointing.
“As legislators, we will strive to deliver a Bill that will enhance the growth of our oil and gas industry, modernize our fiscal system and enhance competitiveness, while creating harmony for all stakeholders. This is a promise we have made and that we shall achieve.
“Nigeria must have an Oil and Gas Industry that benefits its people. Equally, our Oil and Gas Industry must be competitive. We must create a sustainable investment climate, where business in the sector will flourish,” he said.
He added that the determination by the legislature to pass the Bill “is driven by the need to overhaul a system that has refused to operate optimally in line with global standards, resulting into loss of continental competiveness, transparency, accountability, good governance and economy loss for the petroleum industry and the country.”
The Senate President noted that the challenges surrounding the future usefulness of petroleum resources and the increased level of uncertainty on oil demand calls for great concern.
“It is estimated that with the evolving of new technologies, fossil fuel may be less attractive if not of no value in the next 20 years.
“It is therefore time for us to make maximum benefit of our fossil fuel reserves through this reform before it fades away,”Lawan stressed.
According to him, the Petroleum Industry Bill comprises of 4 chapters that outline how to create efficient and effective governing institutions with clear and separate roles for the petroleum industry; establish a framework for the creation of a commercially oriented and profit-driven National Petroleum Company; promote transparency, good governance and accountability in the administration of the petroleum resources of Nigeria among others;
He added that the piece of legislation among others, also seeks to promote the exploration and exploitation of petroleum resources in Nigeria for the benefit of the Nigerian people; promote the efficient, effective and sustainable development of the petroleum industry;
According to him, the PIB upon passage and assent into law by the President, would “foster sustainable prosperity within host communities, provide direct social and economic benefits from petroleum operations to host communities; create a framework to support the development of host communities among others; and
“Establish a progressive fiscal framework that encourages investment in the Nigerian Petroleum Industry, balancing rewards with risk and enhancing revenues to the Federal Government of Nigeria; provide a forward-looking fiscal framework that is based on core principles of clarity, dynamism and fiscal rules of general application; establish a fiscal framework that expands the revenue base of the Federal Government, while ensuring a fair return for investors.”
Lawan assured that the National Assembly during the public hearing would deal with all issues relating to the oil and gas industry with thoroughness and effectiveness, so as to avert colossal losses to the nation’s economy.