• Strides Group seeks speedy action
• N’Delta elder insists on restructuring, not review of 13% derivation
President Muhammadu Buhari may not sign the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) into law after all, if suggestions from former Minister of Petroleum, Professor Tam David-West, are anything to go by. He gave the hint in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Tuesday, saying President Buhari will not sign the bill, which seeks to privatise the oil industry, into law.
David-West, who served as Buhari’s Petroleum Minister when he was military leader and still remains the President’s close confidant, said this while reacting to the proposed creation of a national petroleum company after unbundling the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).He insisted that those behind the bill were driven by selfish ends as against nationalistic or altruistic motives.
“Buhari will not sign it. I will oppose any bill that will privatise the industry. I will also advise him not to sign it. You don’t sell your greatest asset. Why should you privatise it? Oil is the economic livewire of Nigeria. “It makes up over 90 per cent of the country’s foreign receipts, over 80 per cent of budgets and you want to privatise it? Whosoever gets it will control the government,” he said.
The former minister explained that signing the PIGB into law to pave way for the eventual unbundling of the NNPC could be likened to privatisation of the Nigerian government, describing the motive behind the PIGB as irresponsible. He stressed that if government makes the operation of the oil industry conductive for foreign investors, they will invest heavily in it and save government from unbundling NNPC and selling its oil assets.
Meanwhile, Chairman of Strides Group, promoters of Strides Energy & Maritime Limited, Moritz Abazie, has urged the President to urgently sign the bill to increase transparency and stimulate growth in the industry.Abazie, who hinted that the sector’s investment potentials and security was locked down in the other legislations yet to be passed, charged the National Assembly to re-strategise on the remaining three bills of the PIGB, as part of measures to facilitate its signing.
“The need to sign the first section of the bill cannot be over-emphasised. That section deals with management of NNPC and when signed into law, its implementation will see to NNPC’s unbundling, to create four new entities aimed at improving efficiency and transparency in management,” he added.Also speaking, an elder statesman and political analyst, Lawrence Jumbo, has said the review of 13 per cent derivation is no longer necessary to the Niger Delta region, insisting that the country should rather be restructured.
President Buhari had during a visit of Isoko Traditional Rulers Council in Delta State to Abuja last week, promised to revisit the constitutional 13 per cent derivation to ensure development of projects in the region.Jumbo, however, said with the present situation in the country, reviewing 13 per cent derivation would make no sense or impact, stressing that states should be allowed to control their resources and pay taxes to the Federal Government.
He, therefore, urged the Federal Government to make the existing refineries functional and create more employment through them, adding that Niger Deltans have not benefited from the oil sector over time.
“It is only right to build more refineries in the Niger Delta. Building a refinery in Kastina will only kill the ones in the Niger Delta and this is injustice.
“If they build a refinery there, they should get the crude from Lake Chad and not from the Niger Delta. We will resist any attempts to get oil from the region to a refinery in Kastina,” he stated.