by Michel Eboh
The Senate has declared that it is planning laws that would bring about sanity and eliminate corruption in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
Speaking at an Oil and Gas Public Lecture Series in Abuja, organized by the Institute of Oil and Gas Research and Hydrocarbon Studies, IOGRHS, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said the laws are geared at entrenching accountability in oil revenues and increase efficiency in the petroleum industry.
Saraki, who was represented by the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum, Upstream, Senator Gershom Bassey, also stated that the National Assembly would not allow the forthcoming elections distract it from the passage of the remaining portions of the Petroleum Industry Bills.
The remaining Bills currently before the National Assembly are the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill, the Petroleum Industry Administration Bill and the Petroleum Host Community Bill.
He said, “Our role in the legislature is to lay a solid foundation by making laws for the good governance of the citizenry. We are, therefore, striving to make laws that will guarantee effective running of the oil and gas sector, attract key investment, create jobs, halt corruption, and reduce bureaucracy while increasing efficiency.
“We want to see that we harness potentials and generate higher revenue for the economy. Naturally, these laws must also cater for host communities; they must ensure adequate use and accountability of the revenues emanating from the sector, complete with the right checks and balances, for effective management.”
Saraki disclosed that the national Assembly recognises the need for the oil and gas sector to actualise its true status not just in Nigeria but globally, noting that this was why the legislatures are committed to seeing the passage of the Bills through to fruition.
“We must eschew retrogressive tendencies on the road to achieving our set objectives. Clearly, it is about time we revolutionise this and bring it to the modern age.
“Finally, before the winding down of the legislative cycle due to the coming elections, I am hoping for expedited efforts across respective arms of government, as we move to sustainably reposition and reinvigorate the petroleum industry for optimal service and content delivery.”
Also speaking, Chairman of Council of the IOGRHS, Professor Akin Akindoyeni, questioned the delay in the exploitation of the country’s bitumen’s resources. He also called for an urgent passage of the remaining portion of the Petroleum Industry Bills, ensuring that emphasis is placed on empowering host communities to have stakes in the exploitation of crude oil from their lands.
He said, “Nigeria has one of the largest deposits of bitumen in this planet; it has never been exploited. Yet, we import bituminous materials from abroad. Are we waiting for the time when other viable alternatives to bitumen would be discovered before we allow the exploitation of our own deposits? Then it would have been useless.
“The market price of petroleum declined because of the development of shale oil among others. Just what is delaying us? Even if the use of the product is for domestic consumption — in the maintenance of our highways and in the building of new roads, that is all we can aim for, it should give us an opportunity to do it right for a change.
“What I mean here is if we exploit our bitumen to construct our roads and highways, nobody can ask us why. Then why are we not doing this?”