All Eyes On Aso Rock, As President Buhari Faces The Most Difficult Integrity Test, May Disappoint The Entire Nation

By Joshua Amaugo May 7, 2018 15:21

All Eyes On Aso Rock, As President Buhari Faces The Most Difficult Integrity Test, May Disappoint The Entire Nation

At a time when Nigerians are expecting President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, PIGB, into law, as promised during the 2015 Presidential campaign, there are strong indications that the President might not keep to his words, as he has decided to keep mute on the issue.

According to the immediate past Chairman, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi: “My sensing is that this Presidency has walked back from too many things that we thought they would sign; for instance, the issue of declaration of assets and procurement council, things we thought were harmless because of where they are coming from.

“But they have walked back, and so, I will not lose sleep if they walk back.”

Amadi, speaking at a Roundtable Conference organised by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, in collaboration with Foster on Presidential Assent to the PIGB, in Abuja, reiterated that the silence from the Presidency since the bill was sent to Buhari, is not encouraging, arguing that President may not assent to the PIGB transmitted to him by the National Assembly, in April.

He explained that the PIGB would not just take away so much powers from the Minister of Petroleum Resources, or the President, but would curb corruption in the oil sector.

“The power over oil blocks is actually the power of corruption, but if the President is not inclined to those behavior, then there is really not much that he is losing by signing the bill. But again, politics is about that. Perception that you are losing or gaining power is critical.

“So, how the narrative is put out, maybe as a narrative that the President is about to make history, and that his agenda is maturing, could help to set the perception that this is not a self-emulation, but a form of epiphany, if you like. But if the narrative is made to look as if some people are clamping down on the power of the President, I think it will not be nice for the bill.”

Recall, that the National Assembly had split the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, into four, namely: the PIGB, Petroleum Industry Fiscal Framework Bill, Petroleum Industry Administration Bill, and Petroleum Host Community Development Bill.

Also reacting, Prof. Wumi Iledare of the University of Port Harcourt, said: “We should not allow sentiments to stop the passage of the PIGB. Nigeria must timely exploit its resources, to realize maximum value for rapid development of its economy.

“In this bill, roles and accountability are better clarified; governance and transparency strengthened, and inefficiency, maladministration, corruption and secrecy, tackled.”

The Don noted that the PIGB, when passed, would end political interference in the sector, and optimize value chain in the upstream, midstream, and downstream of the Petroleum industry.

“The PIGB separates the roles of the policy maker from the regulator, and from the commercial institutions. It also encourages a single regulator of the oil and gas industry.

“This bill will lead to efficiency in the governance of the oil and gas industry, and so, further delay of the bill will be devastating to the economic fortunes of the country”, Iledare noted.

Meanwhile, the Resident Consultant, Senate Upstream Petroleum Committee, Dr. Francis Adigwe, said the PHIC bill would fast track infrastructural development in the country.

Adigwe said that the PHIC bill promotes full participation of host communities in the development process of oil and gas activities on their land.

“Also, a petroleum host community development trust (fund) is captured in the bill. This will ensure peace and security in oil and gas operations.

“The proposed bill will bring inclusiveness, shared prosperity, direct disbursement, harmonious relationship, peaceful environment with greater involvement and engagement of the host community”, Adigwe said.

Experts from the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, on the other hand, tasked President Buhari to rise above the foibles of partisan and economic interests, to sign the PIGB, saying that it will be a major test of his integrity.

The Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, recalled how the current Buhari administration had during the electioneering campaigns in 2015, promised passage of the bill into law, if voted into power.

“The Executive and NASS at the highest levels, have reiterated this promise severally. At the resumption from recess of each Chamber, the bill is placed on the agenda.

“The Oil Sector Roadmap projected to have passed it into law by December 2015, as one of the Petroleum Industry Reform Bills, PIRBs. This makes it more than one year behind schedule.”

“Hyginus Onuegbu, Chairman, National PIB Committee of PENGASSAN and NUPENG, projected a loss of $15 billion yearly in withheld or diverted investments. There is a further loss of $100 billion potential earnings from 2010-2015.”

Mutiu Sunmonu, one time Country Chair of Shell Companies in Nigeria, SCiN indicated a loss of about $30 billion, in delayed investments by his Company alone.

“Bank Okoroafor, the Chairman of Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria, PETAN, estimates that $10 billion (N1.7 trillion) fresh investments are being lost.

“The NEITI’s figure is a loss of $200 billion yearly, and another $15 billion is lost yearly in fresh investments”, said Musa.

An Energy Expert at the event, Other Panelists, Dr. Dauda Garuba, Kingsley Amaku, and Kolawole Banwo, were of the opinion that Buhari’s decision to assent to the bill would be the greatest litmus test of his integrity.

Presently, Northern youths under the auspices of Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, have expressed their displeasure over the administrative structure and lack of will power of President Buhari on key critical issues that affect Nigerians as a whole, saying: “If you look at the arrangement, the appointments, and how the government relates with the youths of this country, you will see that they do not have respect for the Nigerian youths, despite the contributions of the youths.

“Do not forget that the youths put their lives on the line to fight against the previous government, but when it comes to sharing the goodies of government, the youths are nowhere to be found.

“We are completely disappointed in Buhari, and we will never make this mistake again”, the Northern youths said.

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