The former Senate Committee Chairman on Upstream, Senator Lee Meeba has welcomed the steps by Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) to take ownership of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). Senator Meeba was speaking in Lagos at the NEITI Stakeholders interactive forum on the Bill. He explained that although the Bill is an Executive Bill, the decision by a reputable organization like NEITI will help to address the inadequacies that he has noticed in the PIB and pave way for industry experts to make submissions and enrich its contents.
He called for a PIB that will guarantee the independence of the regulatory agencies to be created by the legislation, insulate the oil and gas sector from political interference and allow fair competition, efficiency and fiscal regime that promote government’s revenue intakes as well as promote returns on investments. He expressed concerns that a close look at the PIB now before the National Assembly shows that the PIB have not adequately addressed any of these concerns; “I do not see the rational for making a law that puts the Minister virtually responsible for nomination, supervision and control of all the Heads of Department as well as institutions to be created by the PIB as presently packaged”.
Senator Meeba cautioned that it will be for the greater interest of the nation for such agencies to be independent and supported with strong institutions under clear policy regimes. The former chairman expressed the hope that NEITI working with the National Assembly, the Civil Society and other industry experts will make informed inputs that will guide the National Assembly to come out with a balanced Petroleum Industry Bill.
Also addressing the NEITI - PIB Forum, the Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Mutiu Sunmonu explained that investors in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector look forward to a PIB that is sensitive to returns on investment, clear and consistent policies in the areas of fiscal, physical and governance regimes as well as a law that recognizes investors as key partners in the development of the sector. He reminded the authors of the Bill that the era where Nigeria is the major oil producing country in the region is over; adding that oil can now be found even in Nigeria’s neighbouring countries.
The Shell Managing Director advocated for a PIB that attracts Foreign Direct Investment, promotes business diversification in the sector to create jobs and a law that restores Nigeria’s oil and gas industry to a peaceful environment where businesses can thrive with minimal costs of production.