President Muhammadu Buhari has declined to assent to the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) sent to him by the National Assembly last month, reports TheWill online newspaper. This is as Nigeria counts loss of investments in the oil sector to over $250Bn in the past 18 years that PIB has stagnated. Shell has just said that its further investment in Nigeria would depend only on PIB becoming law.
It was reported that the president hinged his assent refusal to the fact that the bill would whittle down his power as the Minister of Petroleum Resources and that of the Minister of State, Mr Ibe Kachikwu.
The President, in separate communications to the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, was said to have taken exception to the fact that the bill empowered the technocrats in the petroleum industry.
According to Thisday, the President however, gave assurances that his refusal to assent to the bill would not in any way affect the fiscal policy focus of his administration.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, has stated that he would speak in detail over the matter later today after consulting his records and principal.
THEWILL recalls that the PIGB, passed by the National Assembly in March, 2018 was transmitted to President Buhari in July for his assent.
The bill, which was initiated by late President Umaru Yar’Adua and sent to the 6th National Assembly headed by Senator David Mark in 2008 had been enmeshed in controversy due to some of its provisions.
The Senate had on March 28 passed the PIGB having adopted the report of the conference committee of the PIGB, which harmonised the versions earlier passed by both Senate and House of Representatives.
The harmonised version of the bill seeks to, among others, unbundle the NNPC and merge its subsidiaries such as Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR and Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, into one entity.
The objectives of the PIGB, include transforming the administration of the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors of the Nigerian petroleum industry.
The bill creates a framework that will free up acreages that are not being developed by current license and lease holders, thereby creating opportunities for new investors. This will bring substantial new investment to the nation’s oil and gas industry.
The bill also ensures effective management of the environment by petroleum operators and administrators.
It provides a framework to unleash midstream activities which will open up the market for the supply of gas and other downstream products, for economic growth and provides much needed legal backing for the deregulation of our downstream petroleum sector.