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PIB: CSOs Set Agenda On Transparency, Global Standards



With the month of April insight based on the promise of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, on the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), into law in April 2021, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), have set agenda on transparency, accountability, and global standards in implementing provisions of the would-be law to the benefit of host communities, attract investors and expand the economy.

Speaking on the bill currently at advanced stage with the public hearings being conducted, the CSOs expressed concern in some grave areas that needs attention, including payment of rent directly to landowners, review rents, disbursements of revenues, and others.

The Country Director, Global Rights, Abiodun Baiyewu, said, “It is a welcome development given the intrigues and inordinate delays in its passage, but we all need to be vigilant to ensure that the final version passed protects the vulnerable and reflects the aspirations of the Nigerians and not the whims of selfish interests.

“In particular, we are concerned about provisions to ensure the transparent disbursements of revenues derived for the development host communities, and ensure that environmental degradation is adequately mitigated and penalised.

“In all sane societies, the free, prior, and informed consent of host communities alongside other rights is sacrosanct. We will be watching to ensure that they are affirmed and respected in the final version.

“The bill also needs to be forward-thinking in its provisions. We are near the end of the oil era – this final version must reflect this context”.

She also added that CSOs are to be involved in the aspect of ensuring transparency in the disbursement of revenue derived for the development of host communities and protection of the environment.

The Director, Health For Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Arc Nnimmo Bassey, said, “The PIB will still leave vital issues unaddressed if environment costs remain externalized and its spirit is not in line with the provisions of the Solid Minerals Act of 2007.

“A big deal is being made of a minuscule provision for communities that have borne the brunt of irresponsible exploitation and pollution (including gas flaring) for over six decades now”.

He queried, “Who determines who a host community is? Who says a community that constantly suffers pollution — but doesn’t have oil facilities — is not a host community? Oil companies who thrive on divide-and-rule and are always evading responsibility? A community like Goi in Ogoniland is one such prime example. These are some of the important issues that mustn’t be overlooked.

“PIB should have equivalent provisions for environment and communities as provided in the Solid Minerals Act 2007. Oil companies should make deposited for operations closure at the end of the lifespan of fields. Pay direct rent to landowners and review such rents as in the Solid Minerals Act”.

He further stated that “Moreover, communities should have a right to reject oil and gas exploration and exploitation in their territories.”

In another reaction, a social crusader and Founder, One Love Foundation (OLF), Chief Patrick Eholor, said, “Kudos to the present National Assembly members for their dedication and patriotism in making sure that this Bill is passed and assented to.

“You and I know that non-passage of the PIB has been a major drag on the industry over the years, significantly limiting its ability to attract both local and foreign capital at a time when many other countries are scrambling to exploit their oil and gas resources.

“The mere knowledge that the nation’s oil industry is still being governed by laws enacted more than 50 years ago is ludicrous and extremely disappointing.

“We must have an oil and gas industry that’ll benefit the people with a global standard practices that’ll promote transparency and accountability.”

However, according to Eholor, years of not passing the PIB into law has cost Nigeria and the oil-bearing communities colossal loss and backwardness, rather made them aggressive and frustrated that has led to agitations and attacks on oil companies and facilities in the Niger Delta region.

“It is unfortunate that the oil and gas reforms began in April, 2000, when the then President Olusegun Obasanjo inaugurated the Oil and Gas Reform Implementation Committee.

“The work of the reform committee culminated into the Petroleum Industry Bill which was later transmitted to the 6th Senate in September, 2008, and since then, efforts by successive members of the National Assembly to get the Bill passed have not yielded the much-desired result”, he stated.

He also called on the government to consider deregulation of the downstream sector and unbundling of NNPC.

“They should equally look into the aspect of deregulation of the downstream sector, the agitation of the oil-producing communities and the unbundling of the NNPC which is a conduit pipe for the looting of our common patrimony.”

Meanwhile, the Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Rafsanjani, urged National Assembly not to disappoint Nigerians in passing the PIB into law as promised by the Speaker of House of Representatives as it would change the narrative in the oil and gas sector that has been long-awaited to happen.

Rafsanjani said, “We have heard from the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabimiala, that they will do everything possible to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), in April, this is a serious commitment by the National Assembly members working on the PIB to demonstrate and show their seriousness about this.

“It is important that the PIB this time around break the jinx. It is important that the National Assembly do everything possible to work with various recommendations and suggestions that would help to improve the sector and make it more productive, accountable, and responsive for the nation.

“Without PIB passage the nation’s economy will continue to be stagnated and suffer corruption, ineffectiveness, lack of efficiency, and all sorts of democratic bottlenecks.

“If the PIB is passed into law will make the nation’s oil and gas sector be more productive, efficient, transparent and accountable, and investors will surely come when they see that their investments are guaranteed, regulators are performing according to what the law says, there is enabling environment to ensure they have a healthy business we will have more investors will come to the sector.

“We will not want to have the current situation hereby Nigeria is importing Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), even shamelessly from our neighbouring country. We pray that the PIB legislation scales through, although the President of the Senate made a scary statement that some powerful forces will not allow the PIB to be passed into law.

“My question is that the National Assembly members are the ones that have the constitutional and legislative powers to pass the PIB, is that within the legislature or members of the legislature or is he alleging that some of them would frustrate it?

“But I don’t think this will happen because they are elected to make good laws for the country and one of the good laws is of course to have this PIB passed so that the petroleum sector would be sanitized.

“CSOs and CISLAC have been at the forefront of advocating and agitating for this law to be passed and we hope that this time around the NASS will fulfill its promises as made by Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila that they would pass this law.”





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Emirates Resumes Flights To Nigeria, June 23



The UAE carrier, Emirates Airlines, would start carrying passengers from South Africa, Nigeria and India from June 23, the UAE Embassy said as it announced revised rules on Covid-19.
“We look forward to facilitating travel from these countries and supporting various travellers’ categories,” the airline said in a separate statement, yesterday.
“Residence visa holders from India and travellers from South Africa should’ve taken two doses of a vaccine approved by UAE authorities and carry RT-PCR tests reports from labs approved by the federal governments of these countries.
“But for Nigerians vaccination is not made mandatory but all other conditions apply.
“In addition to the above, Indians have to take a rapid PCR test four hours prior to their travel.
“While there are four vaccines in the UAE for use on eligible individuals against the Covid-19 infection – Sinopharm, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sputnik V and Oxford-AstraZeneca, it is unclear if the UAE has approved vaccines administered on Indian, South African and Nigerian citizens in their countries,” it stated.
“All travellers are also required to present a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 48 hours before departure.
“UAE citizens are exempted.
“Only QR coded PCR test result certificates are accepted.
“All passengers must take a rapid PCR test four hours prior to flight departure.
“All passengers must undergo a PCR test on arrival at Dubai Airport.
“Passengers should undergo institutional quarantine until they receive their PCR test result, which is expected within 24 hours.
“Passengers should produce a negative PCR test certificate with a QR Code from labs approved by the Nigerian government.
“All passengers must undergo a PCR test on arrival to Dubai Airport.
“Transit passengers should comply with entry protocols of final destinations.
“Entry will now be permitted to residents who have received two doses of UAE-approved vaccines,” the state said.
The revised procedures for travellers coming from the Republic of India, South Africa and Nigeria were issued by the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management in Dubai.
They are effective from June 23, the Dubai Media Office said.
It said the updates are part of the committee’s keenness to protect passengers and ease hassles for them without compromising on Covid-19 preventive measures, said the Chairman of the Supreme Committee, Sheikh Mansoor Al-Maktoum.
The Media Office announcement said the updated travel protocols are part of a normal process of revising and optimising preventive measures based on the latest local, regional and international developments.

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Bagudu Vows To Lead Rescue Operation Over Yauri Abduction



Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State last Saturday vowed to lead the rescue operation of teachers and students abducted from the Federal Government College (FGC), Birnin Yauri, in Ngaski Local Government Area of the State.
Bagudu, who is also Chairman, Progressives Governors’ Forum, spoke when local hunters visited him.
Reports had that the Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, and his Jigawa State counterpart, Alhaji Badaru Abubakar, also paid a solidarity and sympathy visit on Gov. Bagudu.
Bagudu assured that some other governors and  stakeholders will join him in the ongoing search operations for the abducted students and staff of the school.
According to him, he will discuss with his colleagues and security agencies in this direction, so as not to jeorpardise the ongoing commendable operations to rescue the abducted students and staff.
He said: “But, we will go out there and like I promised, the day we will move out, I will not be in the office because we will join you in the field.”
The Kebbi State Governor said that this would be done barring all consequences in a bid to rescue the abductees.
Bagudu argued: “It is not weapons that win wars, but it is the will that bad people cannot triumph and we will show that, we have enough will power .
“President Muhammadu Buhari and the security agencies have been doing the best they could with limited resources.
“But, we also need to mobilize, kit ourselves and take on these bandits. Our various scriptures as Muslims and Christians allow us to put our lives at risk in defence of our honour, property and our faiths.
“In what the bandits are doing, they have challenged all of us, so, we can’t let them.”
Bagudu asked the hunters to go back and fully mobilise, pending when he gets the necessary clearance from the security agencies, adding, “we will meet in the field.”
The governor maintained that governors were not sworn in only to sit down in the office and work.
He stated that they are aware that one day they would be required to lead in the field, even though they are not military or police personnel.
He said that if hundreds of thousands of people can be mobilised during campaigns, same should be done now to join the search party.
He said: “What happened in Birnin Yauri should be the last straw. We should follow these bandits wherever they are and take them on.”
Bagudu also described the abduction as very callous, even as he lauded the security agencies, management of the school, ‘Yan Sakai and vigilantes for their heroic efforts since the bandits struck at the college.

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Govs, Others Task Security Agencies On S’East



South-East governors and leaders have requested security agencies in the zone to respect the rights and privileges of all those living in the zone.
They made the call on Saturday in Enugu after a meeting attended by political leaders, socio-cultural organisations, clerics and the traditional leaders.
The Chairman, South-East Governors’ Forum, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, who addressed reporters after the meeting, condemned the killing of civilians in the zone by security agencies.
Umahi urged them to discharge their duties within the law and in accordance with their rules of engagement.
The Ebonyi governor reaffirmed the commitment of the region to the corporate existence of the country.
Umahi, however, said that such union must be based on love, mutual respect and equality of rights irrespective of one’s religion, ethnic group, political inclination and creed.
The governor said the various secessionist groups from the region were not speaking for the people of the area.
He said the leaders from the zone had set up a committee to engage the agitators to allow elders of the region to address their fears.
“We have come out publicly on many occasions to speak against such agitations,” he said.
Umahi said the meeting was in fulfilment of the June 11 agreement they had with a federal government delegation led by the Minister of Defense, Bashir Magashi, a retired major-general.
“Consequent upon that, we scheduled our own meeting today to discuss and articulate our positions.
“This is to enable us not only engage the presidential team but also engage our people over all burning issues,” he said.
The governor said leaders from the region had noted with concern threats against the Igbo people by some groups in other regions.
“The meeting pleaded with leaders of other regions to note such threats to our people, address it and protect our people,” he said.
He said that governors from the South-East had assured people from other ethnic nationalities of their safety in the region in spite of the prevailing circumstances.
The leaders condemned the killing of security personnel and burning of government infrastructure in the region.
He called on National Assembly members from the region to support the creation of state police in the ongoing efforts to amend the constitution.
The governor said the meeting endorsed the South-East joint security unit called EbubeAgu, and requested the personnel to work with statutory security agencies.
Those present at the meeting included Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu.
Anambra and Imo states were represented by the deputy governors, Nkem Okeke and Placid Njoku respectively.
Others were the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe; Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige; Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Uche Ogah, and President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, George Obiozo.

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