The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to swiftly resolve the contentious issues raised about the Petroleum Industry Bill, and get it implemented for effective reforms and repositioning of the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
The position of the union was made known at the end of a one-day workshop on Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) organised for its members from the southern states, at the Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, recently.
The NUJ said, President Buhari’s decision to decline assent to the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) “represents a setback to the build-up of momentum from 18 years of efforts to introduce policy reform in the Nigerian oil and gas sector”.
Consequently, the union said the non-assent to the bill had further thickened the atmosphere of uncertainty that is costing the sector trillions of naira in withheld and diverted foreign direct investment.
The communiqué which was signed by the National President of NUJ, Comrade Chris Isiguzo, and National Secretary, Shuaibu Usman Leman, stated that, “the complacency that has informed the hesitation of key actors to embrace policy reforms stems from the erroneous belief that the reform can wait”.
The statement added that any further delay in the implementation of the PIB, and carrying of drastic reforms in the oil and gas sector, would drag the country backward in the global energy market, saying the scene was becoming, “increasingly crowded with new oil producers with more business friendly petroleum laws”.
The union noted that the future of the Nigerian petroleum industry depends on the outcome of the reform, warning that crisis abounds if the sector was not repositioned to survive and thrive in the current ecology of the oil market.
Drawing from the Venezuelan experience, the NUJ said the huge oil reserve of that country depleted due to lack of political will to conform to international best practices, noting that similar experience was imminent in Nigeria if urgent actions were not taken.
The statement also stated that the prospect of sustainable economic growth in the country depends on effective reforms in the oil and gas sector as, “Nigeria needs revenue from oil and gas to diversify the economy, and for the inflow of capital investment to stimulate our transition to a future without oil”.
The NUJ further urged the National Assembly to expedite action in the passage of the three remaining components of the PIB, and assured to use its platform to contribute to maximization of potentials in the sector.
The event featured presentations by industry analysts and discussion by participants.