15 December 2012

Nigeria: Group Says PIB Twisted, Vests Enormous Power On Jonathan

The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) currently before the National Assembly is said to be flawed and "twisted because it yielded enormous powers to the President and the Minister of Petroleum Resources presently anchored by Mrs Diezzani Allison-Madueke.

This was disclosed Thursday in Abuja at a media Roundtable on the transparency and accountability in the oil and gas sector, organised by the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD).

The Executive Director, Centre LSD, Dr. Otive Igbuzor warned that the PIB as presently composed would not achieve the desired objectives as it will be subject to the whims and caprices of the occupants of Presidency and Petroleum Ministry.

The powers being vested in the President and the Minister without mechanism put in place to check those powers would make it difficult if not impossible for transparency, accountability, and integrity to be achieved in the sector.

Igbuzor noted that, the enormous resources of the country have not translated into benefits of the citizens, saying that, this has prompted the civil society to intervene with a view to enhancing citizens' capacity to contribute to improving transparency and accountability in the sector.

According to him, there is no spelt out roles for the regulatory bodies to perform their functions in regulating the industry; thus posing questions on the mind of Nigerians on what kind of provisions in the bill that ensured that it objectives are met.

He said: "The aim of the project is to strengthen citizens voice for accountability and reforms in Nigeria's oil and gas sector.

"The specific objectives of the project are to monitor and advocate for the passage of the petroleum Industry Bill; monitor broad based groups to advocate for implementation of the recommendations of the subsidy report and other reports on the petroleum subsidy".

He however expressed doubt about the twisted PIB which would not in any way benefit the Nigerian people. Adding that, even, if there are enormous power being given to the President and the Minister, regulatory mechanism should be put in place to check these powers.

Also, the Senior Political Adviser, British High Commission, Mr. Osaro Odewimgie said there was need to separate governance from management, noting that, a situation whereby a Minister serves as the Chairman of a Board won't give room for transparency, and might breed corruption.

Odewimgie said that, there were a lot of political interest on the Bill which might militate against the realities on the ground and this may affect its credibility.

The group called on the media by making the political and economic system more transparent by holding government officials accountable to the people and also by participating in both political and economic decisions of the country.

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