16 June 2017

Nigeria: 'Why National Assembly Must Adopt Common Framework On PIGB'

Port Harcourt — The Chairman, joint National Committee on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), Chika Onuegbu has urged the National Assembly to agree on the passage of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB).

Onuegbu, who spoke in Port Harcourt, said unless the two chambers adopt a common ground, it might be difficult to obtain a presidential assent to make it a law.

The joint committee includes the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG).

Onuegbu said this agreement was necessary to settle the difference between what the House of Representatives had passed and the piecemeal passage by the Senate. He added that the Senate's position on the bill did not address the welfare of oil-bearing communities.

"We acknowledge the fact that the Senate and the House of Representatives have an understanding on the concurrence of bills passed by either sides. "However, with the dissenting voices in the House of Representatives, the action in the coming weeks would determine how they will approach the issue to make the PIGB to eventually become a law," he said.

Onuegbu expressed worry that the Ministry of Petroleum Resources has been silent on the matter, which is unusual in a body that had been keen on celebrating achievements in the sector.

He disclosed that both PENGASSAN and NUPENG would align with the organised labour and the civil society groups to engage the National Assembly and the petroleum ministry.

Onuegbu explained that the Senate's passage of the PIGB on May 25, 2017 will not yield the full benefits of the intended reforms, except other aspects of the PIB are included.

He cited the petroleum host community and petroleum fiscal regimes as some aspects that must be addressed. He said the Senate's position was contrary to the expected reforms to collapse the existing laws into one, in line with international best practices.

"The PIB was meant to create a legal and regulatory framework that is 21st century compliant and engender sweeping reforms in the oil and gas sector," he said.

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