NBA Expresses Deep Concern Over Delay In PIGB Assent By Presidency…Uncertainty Mounts After Bill Is Returned To Drawing Board

Yemisi Izuora 

The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has in Lagos on Wednesday pondered on the unnecessary debate and long argument over the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, PIGB in the last 18 years.

Worried about the space pace at which the Legislature and presidency are moving towards realizing its passage and accent, the lawyers, organised a rountable On ‘Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry Reforms’ in Lagos where eminent speakers discussed the Bill which has been broken down into four manageable parts.

Mr. Osten Olorunsola who gave the background to the Petroleum Industry Reforms, was disappointed that even after extensive work was done by stakeholders in the industry and the long legislative journey undertaken, yet the Bill is yet to be assented to.

Olorunsola, warned that absence of the law is hindering progress in the Industry and Nigeria is no longer making concerted efforts to improve production and not to talk of raising depleting reserves.

He also, disclosed of possible delay in securing presidential accent to the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, PIGB, which he feared may extend to 2019 following fresh amendments demanded by the presidency.

President Muhammadu Buhari had withheld assent on the PIGB following its passage by the National Assembly which he also communicated its decline of assent to the PIGB 2018, citing constitutional and legal reasons in the bill.

But the  Senate president, Bukola Saraki said that it was unfortunate that the bill had not been assented to, adding “we took it as a responsibility to drive that bill to a level it has never been in a decade’’.

Olorunsola who is also the chairman of a task force raised by the National Assembly to consider requests by the president,  said on the sideline of the round table that the group will meet today, Thursday, to harmonise all demands from the presidency.

Olorunsola who spoke exclusively to our reporter however expressed concern about the possibility of getting the Bill readyfor presidential assent.

“So we will be meeting tomorrow, (Today)!to harmonise these issues and get it back to the National Assembly for retransmission to the president. I would not say how long it will take the House to finalise the process be cause I don’t think it has to go through the long legislative process, but I want to believe that whatever delay we experience before May 2019 it will be with the president but the fear is that if we fail to get it done right now it will be a whole lot of new process again”, he said.

Stakeholders have raised serious concerns that Nigeria is fast losing her competitive advantage, as the long delay in accenting to the Bill.

Also, Gbenga Biobaku, speaking on the topic, ‘Why should the President Assent’ argued that a right fiscal and regulatory law will attract the right set of investible funds for domestic oil and gas development.

Oriental News Nigeria, reports that recently participants at a one-day roundtable on PIB organised by the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC) in Abuja said the absence of the PIB was driving fresh investments in the oil industry to rival destinations in the continent.

This development, they noted, has costed Nigeria’s oil and gas industry several billions of dollars investment and returns to the economy.

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