Presidency offers reasons for action
Stakeholders in the oil and gas sector and others have tackled President Muhammadu Buhari for allegedly refusing to sign the Petroleum Industry Government Bill (PIGB) into law.
According to them, the action is unreasonable, highest point of impunity and misplaced priority. They argued that it remains unacceptable for the country to continually act at the whims and caprices of the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
On some of the issues raised about the piece of legislation, industry analysts claimed that the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration was never sincere about reforming the sector in the first place.Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar described the action as a grave error.
In a statement, he said the development shows that the current administration was out of tandem with global best practices.To the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), the decision was “intentional retrogression.” In a statement, it noted that the move might not shock most rational thinkers in and outside the country “because it is a notorious fact that pragmatic governance change has not yet manifested in Nigeria even with much talked about change mantra mouthed by President Muhammadu Buhari and his officials.”
Reports had revealed that Buhari withheld assent because the bill supposedly reduces the president’s control of the industry.But a top source said the bitter politics between the presidency and the leadership of the National Assembly could be the reason the bill was rejected.President, Nigerian Association for Energy Economics (NAEE), Prof. Wunmi Iledare; Partner, Odujinrin and Adefulu, Adeoye Adefulu; former president, Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), Abiodun Adesanya; Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Ibrahim Musa, and Managing Partner, The Chancery Associates, Emeka Okwuosa, insisted that it would be in the best interest of Buhari to sign the bill otherwise he would be remembered as the worst president in the history of the nation.
Adefulu discredited the allegation that the country would lose its OPEC membership if the legislation sees the light of day.For Iledare, the bill only moves to terminate discretionary awards of oil block, adding that the powers of the president remain intact. Adesanya, on his part, urged stakeholders to rise up to the situation.
In his remarks, Okwuosa said it was height of impunity for the president to decline assent. Musa, however, noted that it would be unfortunate if the president remains adamant after promising to reform the industry.
However, the presidency said the 10 per cent set aside for the Petroleum Regulatory Commission from generated revenue was too high given the fact that there were other sources of funding for the proposed agency including budgetary provisions for its personnel and recurrent expenditure.In a statement, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, said signing the bill as passed would amount to depriving the federal and state governments as well as the Federal Capital Territory and the council areas of their deserved revenue.