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NASS Passes Two Versions Of PIB, As Stakeholders React

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There was uproar in the Senate, yesterday, during the consideration of the Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources Downstream; Upstream and Gas Resources on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Despite that, the Senate, passed the controversial PIB after a very heated argument, debate, and plea on the percentage for the host communities, just as the lawmakers approved three percent (three per cent) of the actual annual operating expenditure of the preceding financial year in the upstream petroleum operations affecting the host communities for funding of the Host Communities Trust Fund.
It said that this will ensure adequate development of the host communities and reduction in the cost of production.
The three per cent approved was short by two per cent as against the five per cent recommended by the committee.
The report read, “This chapter highlights the effective and efficient administration of the Host Community Trust Fund which is to be anchored by the settlor, that is the oil and gas companies operating in the host communities.
“The various recommended provisions when passed into law will ensure a peaceful operating environment that will have a positive direct impact on the cost of oil and gas production which has been the bane of the Nigerian oil and gas industry,
“After extensive engagements with various stakeholders and on-the-spot assessment visits to host communities across the country, the Joint Committee recommended strengthening measures and saddled the host communities with responsibilities with a view to reducing or completely eradicating interferences and tampering in the country’s oil and gas production assets.


“Furthermore, to ensure adequate development of the host communities and reduction in the cost of production, the Joint Committee recommends five per cent (5%) of the actual annual operating expenditure of the preceding financial year in the upstream petroleum operations affecting the host communities for funding of the Host Communities Trust Fund.
“A total of 20 amendments were recommended to this Chapter while others were retained”.
Meanwhile, Senators had a closed door meeting with the Minister of State, Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, and the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mele Kyari, who briefed the lawmakers for over one hour on the technical and financial details of the Bill before the consideration of the report.
Also, the House and the Senate, yesterday, passed a different version of the Petroleum Industry Bill.
While the lower chamber did not debate the bill, the members of the upper chamber had extensive debate on it.
The Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon Ahmed Wase did not allow any debate or call for an amendment, however, the Chairman of the ad-hoc committee, Mohammed Monguno moved a motion for the host community fund to be amended from the 2.5 per cent presented, to 5 per cent.
The amendment was adopted, however, the Senate passed at 3 per cent.
Speaking on the bill, Monguno who briefed journalists said Rep members will ensure that their 5 per cent is adopted against the 3 per cent by the senate.
He noted that the House has gotten the mandate to push for the 5 per cent.
He, however, said the Joint Committee of the National Assembly will have to decide on how to proceed.
The bill also makes provision for 30 per cent of oil profits to be invested into the frontier funds for the exploration of oil in the North and other frontier basins.
“The House has a mandate; the committee must jealously guard this mandate. Although there would be some give and take, the House will guard it jealously”, Munguno said.
“30% of the oil profit will be used for frontier explorations. The money will be in escrow account, if not used, it will be returned to the treasury. We only have 20 years window to maximise oil,” Monguno said.
The House version is yet to pass for Second Reading.
The joint committee is expected to concur to the two versions.
Commenting on the development, lead promoter, EnergyHub Nigeria, Dr Felix Amieyeofori, said, “This is a welcome development for the oil and gas industry, and the country at large as it will provide the long-expected business and investment environment for operators, and other stakeholders.
“This is coming at the time when oil and gas-dependent economies are grappling with the reality of the energy transition to cleaner renewable energy sources, targeted at tackling the global climate problems.
“While oil will still play a significant role in the global energy mix beyond 2050, the ‘Proverbial Net Zero Date’, Nigeria must ensure that we utilize the opportunities created by this law to fully harness the total hydrocarbon value chain in order to generate the capital that will propel our transition into the renewable world.
“I would, therefore, advise that government and all the stakeholders work toward ensuring the immediate implementation of the critical and pivotal clauses without the traditional politicking. The 2014 National Conference is still very fresh, as Nigerians are known for putting together very pragmatic policies and laws, but, we have always failed to walk the talk, and that has been the albatross of our development as a nation.”
He added: “I will say a Big Congratulations to the 9th National Assembly and Buhari-led Executive arm for taking the bull by the horns. I also want to congratulate the industry stakeholders for their sweats and strains for ensuring this historic event in the country.”
Similarly, a Port Harcourt-based energy analyst, said, “The PIB is dead on arrival, apparently because it is belated.
“This administration could have passed the PIB much earlier, but it wasted time trying to break it down into segments, including the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) before returning to the original plan of passing it as a single document.
“Consequently, the oil and gas industry and the entire nation’s economy have suffered. Many investments and companies had over the years gone to other nations in Africa, especially Angola, Ghana, and even the emerging East African countries.”
He added, “There was a time Nigeria used to deploy over 20 rigs, exploring for oil, but we currently use only about six or seven rigs.”
In a recent interview, the Executive Director, Spaces for Change, Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, who criticized previous administrations for their inability to pass the PIB, had attributed it mainly to, “lack of political will and vested interests.”
Reacting, the Presidency described the passage of the complete version of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which defied passage in previous assemblies over the last twenty years by the Senate as a jinx that has indeed been broken.
In a statement, yesterday by the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Babajide Omoworare, said that breaking the jinx with the passage was a testament that the Executive and the Legislature can really work together and truly engage each other, without compromising party position and individual perspective, in the most positive manner with a view to actualising the common goal and communal good for Nigerians.
Omoworare congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari, the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker, House Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila on the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill by the National Assembly.
The statement read, “The Senior Special Assistant to the President on NASS (Senate), Senator Babajide Omoworare, congratulates President Muhammadu Buhari, the Senate President Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker, House Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila on the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill by the National Assembly.
“It should be noted that the efforts by the Executive and Legislature in Nigeria to put in place contemporary legislative and legal framework in the oil and gas sector has proved abortive since the year 2000; also, the non-amendment of the extant framework being the Petroleum Act of 1967, has affected inflow of Foreign Direct Investment as well as growth in Local Content.
“Breaking this jinx and achieving this feat is a testament that the Executive and the Legislature can really work together and truly engage each other, without compromising party position and individual perspective, in the most positive manner with a view to actualizing the common goal and communal good for Nigerians.
“I would like to thank the entire Leadership and Members of the Senate and House of Representatives, as well as the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylvia, and the Group Managing Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kolo Kyari, for their focused and tenacious attitude to achieving this milestone.”
Also reacting, the National President, Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas (HOSTCON), Chief Benjamin Benjamin Tamanarebi said it was insulting for the Senate and House of Representatives to cede only three and five per cent equity shareholding, respectively to the oil and gas producing communities in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), passed.
Tamanarebi said that the PIB passed by NASS was a fruitless exercise and unacceptable to the host communities.
“Imagine for over 63 years of neglect, deprivation and marginalization of the aborigines who have suffered untold hardship in the midst of wealth, for the first time after many years of agitation, asking for only 10 per cent equity shareholding and the leadership of NASS is considering five per cent and three per cent viewing it that they have done us a favour.
“This is unacceptable and we reject the offer.
“It is our sole right as the aborigines, it is our land, and it is our waterways, as Nigeria claiming it because we are from Nigeria state. Then, why denying our rights to benefit, right to have clean environment, right to have potable water to drink, good hospital, electricity, good roads but leaving us in abject poverty, in a desecrated environment without considering the UNFCCC/ CDM criteria.
“We will still study other areas in the Bill to address it in due course, for example, Section 104 (2) on gas flaring where funds on penalty should be paid to the government, we reserve to study all sections, but is a fruitless exercise as usual,” he said.

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PDP Inaugurates 15 Convention Sub-Committees –

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Wike Chairs Special Duties Committee
6,000 Delegates Expected To Attend

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) National Convention Committee, yesterday, in Abuja inaugurated 15 sub-committees for its national convention scheduled for October 30.
The sub-committees as read by the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Duoye Diri, include the National Convention Organizing Committee, chaired by Adamawa State Governor, Hon Ahmadu Fintiri.
Others are Constitutional Amendment Committee, chaired by Akwa lbom Governor, Udom Emmanuel; Zoning Committee chaired by Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Screening Committee, chaired by former Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke.
Sub-committees and their chairmen also inaugurated were Screening Appeal Committee chaired by Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Special Duties Committee chaired by Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike; Accreditation Committee chaired by Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa; and Security Committee chaired by former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase.
The Electoral (Statutory) Committee, with Adamawa Governor, Hon Ahmadu Fintiri as the chairman; Publicity Committee chaired by Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki; and Venue Committee, chaired by Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed are also among them.
Others include: Welfare and Entertainment Committee with Mariya Waziri as chairperson; Transportation Committee, with Ibrahim Dankwambo as chairman; and Contact and Mobilization Committee with Taraba Governor, Darius Ishaku as chairman.
The rest are, Protocol Committee with Sen. Biodun Olujimi as chairperson; Medical Committee — Nuhu Zagbayi; and Secretariat Committee — Umaru Ibrahim Tsauri.
Inaugurating the sub-committees, Fintiri expressed belief that the October convention would be successful and lead PDP to victory in 2023.
Fintiri said that the leaders and members of the sub-committees were carefully selected to organize a credible convention for the party.
The Adamawa governor urged them to make the necessary sacrifices to deliver the best convention to the party.
Fintiri, fielding questions from newsmen after the inauguration, said that by PDP’s new constitution, over 6,000 delegates were expected at the convention.
“We are fully prepared for that. We are expecting everybody in every ward that is a delegate to attend the convention.”
He said that the sub-committees had been given directions and they were expected to go back, adequately prepare and submit their report to the main committee for approval.
On which part of the party’s Constitution would be amended, Fintiri said he could not pre-empt the Constitution Sub-Committee, but allow them do their job.
On how far the zoning committee had gone after the one-week appeal he gave them, last week, Fintiri said the committee was in a meeting in Enugu carrying out its responsibilities.
“You can see the party is working, and it is a turning point for all of us,” Fintiri said.
According to him, the leadership tussle in the party has largely been addressed even as he came short of saying the PDP has moved on from the crisis.
He said, “We are moving on. I am the chairman of the convention committee and you can see that we are doing our work. Everybody is happy and participating. I don’t see any crisis in this party.”
The party’s national elective convention is slated for October 30 and 31 this year in Abuja.

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RSG Recommits To Building Agric Sector

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The Rivers State Government has said that it was committed to building the agricultural sector and utilise the huge potentials the state has for the benefit of Rivers people.
The state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, stated this while speaking at a seminar of the Norwegian Seafood Council at Hotel Presidential in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Represented by his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, Wike said, “In the face of dwindling oil prices, and the need to diversify the economy, we see a lot of potentials in the seafood industry especially post Covid-19. This is an important industry for creating employment opportunities, generate revenue and boost economic activities in our area”.
Wike, who said that Rivers State was one of the coastal states in the Niger Delta endowed with valuable seafood resources, revealed that Norway and Nigeria have had a long history of relationship and trade.
According to the governor, “Rivers State, known as the oil and gas hub of Nigeria, is open to do business in all sectors including maritime and welcome more partnerships and investments from stakeholders who wish to do business in the state”.
Wike further said, “In the effort to grow our economy, the Government of Rivers State supports making laws that work for us all, by putting laws in place to improve society’s efficiency. Hence, the assent and signing of the VAT law”.
The Rivers State chief executive, who commended the Norwegian Seafood Council for conducting the seminar in the state, stressed that stock fish was enjoyed across Rivers State by all groups, including low and high earners, while both men and women are involved in the sales in our markets.
“I believe this seminar will examine the many advantages and gains of seafood as well as anticipated support from the Norwegian Embassy in the areas of encouraging deep sea fishing, trawlers, good storage for sea products, training to grow and nurture fish production standard, fish ponds and open fish farms, use of technology and encouragement, support to artisan farmers.
“We believe that the gains for removing stock fish and stock fish heads from the list of items not valid for the FX windows far outweigh the losses if any.
“For all the reasons stated above and many more, we anticipate Federal Government and the CBN’s removal of stock fish and stock fish heads from the list of items not valid for the Central Bank of Nigeria FX window”, Wike further stressed.
In his remarks, the Ambassador Royal Norwegian Embassy, Knut Lein, who described the history of stock fish in Nigeria and Norway as fascinating, said it creates a bond between both countries, and expressed the desire to foster increased cooperation, build on bilateral relations and inform the government of Norway about the opportunities in the country.
He said, “together we could create lots of jobs”, insisting that “doing what we can to promote stock fish trade was a win-win for all of us”.
Highlights of the occasion were the presentation of papers by the Director Africa, Norwegian Seafood Council, Mr. Trond Kostveit, and other stakeholders.
The Norwegian Ambassador, Mr. Knut Lein, had earlier paid a courtesy call on Governor Nyesom Wike, at the Government House in Port Harcourt, where the state chief executive expressed the state government’s desire to continue to partner with the Norwegian Embassy to facilitate economy growth and development of both countries, and the state in particular.

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Encourage States To Harness Own Resources For Dev, Wike Tasks FG

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said Nigeria must encourage federating states to harness their resources and generate revenues, including Value Added Tax (VAT) to advance their development.
He also stressed that it was baffling to note that Rivers State was not included among states to benefit from any of the projects to be executed with the fresh loan that the Federal Government was seeking to obtain from the World Bank.
Wike made the observation when the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, led a delegation to present letter of nomination to him as the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award at Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday.
The Rivers State governor observed that there were mounted attempts to frustrate federating states like Rivers, to actualise the constitutional provisions that empower them to harness their resources and revenues, particularly VAT.
The governor decried the situation where the legality of states collecting VAT was not considered on the merit of the law by some public commentators, including state executives, rather, they were politicising it and looking at it from prism of ethnicity and religion.
According to Wike, what the FIRS was doing was illegal, and could be likened to robbing some states to pay others.
“You don’t even need to be a lawyer to know that VAT is not in Items 58 and 59 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended. Everybody knows that. It is not even in the Concurrent List. Therefore, it falls under the Residual List. It is not arguable. That yesterday, nothing happened, does not mean that today, nothing will happen or tomorrow, something will not happen.
“Nigeria should encourage states to be strong enough to have resources to develop themselves. We are in a federal system where we are practicing unitary system. Everybody at the end of the month will run to Abuja to share money. Nobody comes back to the state to think, how do I develop my state.”
He explained that the contest against the collection of Valued Added Tax (VAT) was started by Lagos State, which had sued the Federal Government at the Supreme Court.
According to him, Rivers State only avoided their pitfall by suing the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which is an agency of the Federal Government that was illegally collecting the tax in the state.
“The issue of VAT did not start from Rivers State. It started in Lagos State when Lagos State challenged it in Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court said you (Lagos) shouldn’t have sued the Federal Government. All you would have done was to sue the agency.”
The governor observed that rather than commend Rivers State Government for seeking to entrench fiscal federalism and constitutionalism, a particular state governor had threatened that the judgement of the court that declared that states, and not FIRS, are entitled to collect VAT within their jurisdiction, will not stand.
He urged those demanding for a brothers’ keeper consideration to first, appreciate the position of the law and situate it rightly.
“Some people say, ‘be your brother’s keeper’. I have no problem in being my brother’s keeper, but why not come out and say, let us tell ourselves the simple truth: as it is provided in the law, who is the person responsible to collect the VAT?
“When you agree to that, that it is the state, then, we can sit down to look at the different problems of states. And not to say ‘be your brother’s keeper’ while you’re doing an illegal thing, in disobeying what the law says you should not do.”
Wike stated that it was sheer act of discrimination for the Federal Government not to include Rivers State as one of the states that will benefit from projects for which it was seeking fresh foreign loans to execute.
“Look at the money that Federal Government has gone to borrow from the World Bank. Of all the projects, in all the states, Federal Government did not include Rivers State.
“Look at the list of projects that states will benefit from this money they’re borrowing from the World Bank that they have sent to National Assembly for approval, the only state that is not benefitting is Rivers State”.
He further noted, “It is the prerogative of Mr President; if he says he does not like Rivers State, if the ruling party says they don’t like Rivers State, I won’t kill myself. But leave the one that the law says I should be the one to collect so that I will be able to develop my own state.”
Speaking further, Wike explained that beyond the provision of infrastructure, his administration was seeking a law that would provide comfortable accommodation for judicial officers on retirement.
The reason, he said, was to ensure that, while in service, the judicial officers can concentrate on their jobs without cutting corners, and avoid corrupt practices.
In his remarks, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, said the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award was the flagship of award the company.
According to him, Wike was unanimously selected for his remarkable contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria and promotion of fiscal federalism with his position on VAT, which would help in the restructuring of Nigeria.
“Today, His Excellency has guided Nigeria to true federalism with the issue of VAT. Knowing what fiscal federalism should be, His Excellency went to court to challenge the collection of VAT, and the court stated that actually the states should collect VAT. And that is laying the foundation for true federalism and fiscal federalism”, he said.
Ukeh commended Wike for his sterling performance in office and infrastructural revolution taking place in Rivers State.

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