NUJ lends voice on PIGB, wants Buhari to sign, now

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The failure to sign the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) so far passed by the National Assembly out of four total expected has angered the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).

The anger rose as cross section of journalists from the Southern states of Nigeria converged on Ibom Hotel & Golf Resort to discuss the Petroleum Industry Bills (PIB). The event featured presentations by industry analysts and discussion by participants. At the end of the deliberations, the participants unanimously adopted the following resolutions:

President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to decline assent to the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) represents a setback to the buildup of momentum from 18 years of efforts to introduce policy reforms to the Nigerian Oil and Gas sector. We call on the President and the National Assembly to swiftly resolve the contentious issues raised about the Bill.

Non-assent to the Bill has further thickened the atmosphere of uncertainty that is costing the sector trillions of naira in withheld and diverted foreign direct investments.

The complacency that has informed the hesitation of key actors to embrace policy reforms stems from the erroneous belief that the reform can wait. All decision makers are enjoined to be cognizant of the fact that time is running out for Nigeria to reposition herself as the energy market is becoming increasingly crowded with new oil producers with more business friendly petroleum laws.

The imperative to increase Nigeria’s competitiveness in the global energy market makes the need for reform urgent. Actualization of the reform bills should be a national priority.

The future of the Nigerian petroleum industry which is the mainstay of the Nigerian economy depends on the outcome of the reform process. This means that Nigeria will be met with an existential crisis if she does not hasten to ensure that her Oil and Gas sector is fit to survive and thrive in the current ecology of the oil market.

The fall of Venezuela’s economy, the country with the highest proven reserves in the world, into an economic abyss is a telling example of the consequences of the lack of political will to conform to international best practices. Nigeria presently embodies most of the key endemic and structural dysfunctions that occasioned the devastation of Venezuela. If decision makers fail to learn from that nation’s experience and change course immediately, Nigeria risks the prospect of falling into similar ruin.

Nigeria needs revenues from the Oil and Gas sector to diversify the economy because no other sector has sufficient revenue generation capacity to drive the diversification of the economy. Reforms will pave the way for the inflow of capital investment to stimulate our transition to a future without oil.

We call on the key actors to set aside partisan considerations and put Nigeria first. All stakeholders should work together to bring the reform package to fruition as it holds the promise of guaranteeing win-win gains for the Nigerian people.

Participants also urge the National Assembly to expedite action on the passage of the three remaining components of the Petroleum Industry Bill.

As journalists and members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm, we recognize our responsibility to highlight the urgent need for reforms in the petroleum industry and we undertake to use our platforms and skills to contribute to the maximization of the potential of the sector.

(Source: Chris Isiguzo, National President and Shaibu Usman Leman, National secretary)