By Bolaji Buhari
Lagos – An advocacy group, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), has urged the National Assembly to urgently pass all components of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to transform the petroleum sector.
Mr Kolawole Banwo, the CISLAC’s Programme Manager, made the call on Wednesday during the group’s advocacy visit to the Lagos office of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
“There is need for the legislature to pass all the components of the bill urgently to respond to the needs of the petroleum sector and attract fresh investments’’ Banwo said.
He said the bill was strategic to the development of the petroleum sector, adding that delay in its passage was causing uncertainties in the sector.
The programme manager urged the executive and legislative to critically look at the huge benefits of the bill and give it all the attention it deserved without delay.
Banwo said that the country was losing billions of dollars in fresh investments in the sector as a result of uncertainties created by the delay.
“In spite of the immense benefits of the bill, which first draft was submitted to the National Assembly in 2007, it has not been passed.
“The current administration promised to pass it into law, if voted into power. The Executive and the Legislature have reiterated it severally.
“At the resumption from recess of the sessions of each chamber, it is placed on the agenda. The Oil Sector Road Map (Seven Big Wins) projected to have passed it in December in 2016,’’ he said.
Banwo commended the National Assembly for passing the Petroleum Industry Institution Bill, one of the three components into which the bill was split.
He said that there was need to urgently pass other components, like the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Frame Work Bill and Petroleum Host Community Development Bill, as a way forward.
The advocacy group manager also urged the executive to assent to the already passed bill in demonstration of its commitment to the entire PIB.
On the cost implications of not passing the bill on time, he said that the country would continue to lose a projection of 15 billion dollars in withheld or diverted investments.
He said that the country had lost 100 billion dollars in potential earnings between 2010 and 2015.
Banwo quoted Anthony Okoroafor, the Chairman, Petroleum Technology Association, as saying that “an estimated 10 billion dollars fresh investments’’ were being lost to the delay.
He said that the group’s visit to NAN was to kick start a media advocacy on speedy passage of PIB.
Banwo described the media as a critical stakeholder and agenda setter, which could not be ignored on developmental issues.
He urged the management of NAN to partner with the group in pushing for the passage of PIB to the consciousness of stakeholders through their reports.
Banwo said that the group was also partnering other stakeholders to ensure that the bill was speedily passed.
Receiving the team, Mr Idonije Obhakedo, the Head of Editorial Operations in Lagos, pledged NAN’s support to the advocacy group.
Obhakedo, however, advised the group to reach out to critical stakeholders to clear all doubts and garner support for passage of the bill.
“You need to reach out to everyone in all parts of the country and educate them on the benefits of the bill.
“Those with reservations should also be particularly carried along to achieve success in your advocacy,’’ he said. (NAN).