Nigerian lawmakers are calling for a future amendment to the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), recently passed by the national assembly for presidential assent.
The executive bill was passed with some contentious issues bordering on funds for ‘frontier exploration’ and the host communities.
Hon. Tajudeen Yusuf and Hon. Henry Nwawuba who spoke on Channels TV said while the bill may get the nod of the executive because it initiated it in the Ninth Assembly, it would be good to have the bill reworked to meet the aspirations of all the people, especially its critical stakeholders, in this case, the host communities.
They argued that both houses will be going on consensus over the percentage of the host community, a rate both houses passed separately.
The Senate passed the bill with a peg of 3 per cent for the Host Community Trust Fund, while the House passed the bill with a peg of 5 per cent forcing both chambers to go for concurrence of the bill.
In his argument, Tajudeen reasoned that the national assembly may set bad precedence with the host community definition which includes impacted community.
He argued that such definition would be strongly met by the Hydro Power Development Community Bill when it comes to the consideration of the national assembly and others of its kind.
He noted that drawing a correlation between both bills, he has a reservation and his reservation demanded an answer.
He also said he cannot relate with the ‘frontier exploration’ fund which allocated a whopping 30 per cent operation fund from the precessing year for it.
He argued that oil exploration is purely business and such fund was not necessarily as the business model would take care of that need for the business.
Tajudeen argued that “I have my reservation on the definition of a host community and impacted community and of course some their certain things.
“The beauty of democracy is that the minority would have its say while the majority would have its way.
“I am not comfortable and I feel we are having a dangerous precedent do not forget when the (PIB) came to light, there was Hydro Power Development Community (HYPERDEC) Bill of Niger state and other states where you have power generated.
“Does it mean that everywhere the Pylon and other electrical transmitting facility pass-through have become impacting community that will benefit from whatever is going to the host community on power generation?
“That is my reservation about it. I just feel that we should not do things that tomorrow we will boomerang and set us on a cycle we will not be able to come out from, Tajudeen stated.
“We have not seen the end of this, that is the beauty of Parliament, maybe when we leave years later, others will come and rejig the law, that is the beauty of Parliament.
“The ‘frontier exploration’ I challenged it. I am aware that in history and anybody can go and search, there has never been a time that the government vote for money before the exploration of oil in the Niger Delta.
“First commercial crude oil we got in Nigeria from the company involved spent their own money until we got to that level.
Hon. Henry Nwawuba said he agreed with his colleagues in this line of argument and said that the bill sought to regulate the oil sector and encourage investment in the sector to boost Nigeria economy.
“That intention of PIB is to take the government reasonably off some of these things, if we agreed in an avenue for certain resources to be used then, I am sorry, or become slush, I think it is better for businesses to be allowed on their own to make the investment in exploration as it is being practised now.
“I am of the opinion that it is good that we got to this level compared to the past but for these areas, I Hon. TJ Yusuf is not comfortable with it but the majority had its way but it should still be looked into.
“The correlation between the PIB and the HYPERDEC is that was proposed by some communities if you say that every community that oil pipeline passed through are to benefit from the host community fund. Do we say that everywhere that the national grid pass through will benefit from such a bill? That is my question.
Hon. Nwabuba who agreed with him said that oil exploration may be capital intensive and can boost the economy when law and finance are on the table.
He noted that because of the strict laws in the second-largest oil reserve in the world investment have eluded Venezuela and drawing from that experience Nigeria acted along with this thinking
He said, “I completely agree with him, we do expect that in years to come we are going to sit down and review, then, look at it again and see what is working for Nigeria and what is not been working for Nigeria.
“The other thinking driving the PIB is the investment required in investing in the oil industry is very huge and the second thing is that it is a long lead investment not like buying and selling.
“Over the time when we have had oil in Nigeria, what we are considering is that, is there a way we can make things easier.
“The PIB which has been passed today, I see it as a win-win situation because it takes us from a ‘no law’ situation to a situation where we have some kind of regulations around the oil sector, especially, as the oil industry is still the goose that lays the golden egg.
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