Connect with us

Politics

PIB: North’s Undevelopmental Stance

Published

on

The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) currently awaiting legislative assent in the hallowed chambers has become an enigma of sort. The reason is simple: from being one of the most democratic phenomenons ever thought of in Nigeria, it has become what is capable of disintegrating the most populous African nation.

Ridiculously, and ironically too, the root cause of the present imbroglio is encapsulated in what George Orwell meant when he said in the book, “Animal Farm” that “in a time of deceit, telling the truth is revolutionary.”

Interestingly, there is hardly any Nigerian, who disagrees, openly, that the country’s petroleum industry needs deliverance, in its entirety. The primary reason is that the industry is the backbone of the country. Therefore, if corruption thrives in it as much as have been variously alleged, the PIB couldn’t have come at a better time, even as many feel it is belated.

Obviously, this reasoning seems to be what guided proponents of the bill over a decade ago, prominent among which was Dr. Rilwanu Lukeman, former Minister of Petroleum Resources, who conceived the idea in 2000.

The PIB is based on the report of the Oil and Gas Reform Implementation Committee (OGIC) set up by the Federal Government in 2000 to carry out a comprehensive reform of the oil industry. The OGIC was charged with making recommendations for a far-reaching restructuring of the oil and gas industry. The committee was chaired by Lukman, who was then the Presidential Adviser on Petroleum and Energy.

According to Lukeman, the PIB constitutes a reform legislation designed to encapsulate the legislative and administrative instruments governing the petroleum industry in one omnibus legislation, establishing clear rules, procedures and institutions for the industry.

In a presentation at a stakeholders’ session in 2009, Lukman said: “The Nigeria Petroleum Industry Bill is a remarkable document, which contains most of the legal requirements that will apply to the petroleum industry in Nigeria.

“The PIB combines 16 different petroleum laws in a transparent and coherent document. This is the first time that such a large scale consolidation has happened anywhere in the world. Good governance is promoted through the removal of much of the confidentiality as well as creating transparency.

“Confidentiality encourages corruption. The best way to fight corruption is to remove confidentiality from all procedures, contracts and payments. Every Nigerian, including stakeholders, should have the right to know what is going on. The bill removes confidentiality on a scale not seen in the world before. Nigeria will move in one step from one of the most opaque petroleum nations in Africa, to one of the most open and transparent in the world.

“The texts of all licenses, leases and contracts and any of the changes to such documents will no longer be confidential. Payments to the government of Nigeria will be public information. All petroleum geological, geophysical, technical and (oil) well data will be accessible for all interested persons in a national data base.

“The proposed bill will result in a significant increase in transparency. From now on, petroleum prospecting licenses and petroleum mining leases can only be granted by the Minister through a truly competitive bid process. Such process will be open and accessible to all qualified companies.

“Every company involved in the upstream petroleum industry will be subject to the same system of rents, royalties and taxes, depending on whether they operate in the onshore, shallow or deep offshore or inland areas.

“This means it will not be possible under the bill to treat certain companies more favourably than others. Nigerians can only fully benefit from their petroleum resources, if there is a sound petroleum administration,” he said.

In spite of this anticipated Eldorado, major companies involved in oil and gas exploration and exploitation, mostly multinationals, were the first to pick holes in the bill. They kicked against the perceived contentious provisions in the bill, especially the fiscal terms, claiming that the benefits the government wants from operations are so high that if the bill is passed in its present state, they would be running their business at a loss.

Other issues in the bill that operators frown at include undue powers conferred on the Minister of Petroleum and some conditions attached to acreage leases to oil firms. These and other issues that border on downstream sector are what the Federal Government was trying to resolve before Northern lawmakers recently joined the fray.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Housing, Sen. Bukar Abba-Ibrahim (ANPP-Yobe) gave an insight into the North’s opposition to the PIB, saying it is lopsided. He said the clause in the PIB, which allots additional 10 per cent revenue for oil producing communities was unacceptable.

Abba-Ibrahim, a former Governor of Yobe State, said, “This issue of oil producing communities getting 10 per cent of whatever is gotten from oil in addition to all sources of revenue for the oil producing states which has now divided the country into two, with oil producing states having more than what they need and squandering the oil riches, and the non-oil producing state, which are more in number, hardly surviving, hardly paying salaries and hardly doing anything has to stop.”

The lawmaker continued that the North was also opposed to the PIB because of its failure to make provision for the exploitation of other minerals all over the country.

“We have over 800 million tones of limestone in Gulane, Fune and Guljimba local governments of Yobe, but as a state government, you cannot go and exploit, it has to be Federal Government.’’

He is, however, optimistic that the bill when passed would sanitise the Petroleum Industry and address the issue of corruption in the sector.

A critical analysis of Abba-Ibrahim’s statements reveals that when he said oil producing states where “having more than what they need”, he was inadvertently confirming that governments have always been squandering public funds. Such funds are meant for the development of the populace.

Obviously, if the populace were being developed, the government would not have been accused of squandering funds allocated for development. So, why is he and his Northern brothers against the development of primary recipients of hazards accruable from oil exploration, extraction and exploitation? What difference will it make to the communities when such fund is deposited in the national treasury?

Democracy has clearly been so misconstrued that people are often so blind with their own version of patriotism that they find it difficult to face reality. They thus forget that wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.

The Northern stance is thus a quest for the status quo of squandering public fund to remain. It is another way of saying that it is wrong for the hitherto devastated oil producing communities to be developed.

The North should rather take a cue from the popular television presenter, Oprah Winfrey, who once said, “Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new centre of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.”

Since they have confirmed that they are rich in limestone, for instance, the right thing to do to avoid the division of the country over benefits accruable to host communities of mineral resources is to exert such energies as they expend on fighting for oil proceeds on the Federal Government to commence exploration of alternative mineral resources in their various states through legislation.

With the exploration and exploitation of such mineral resources in their states, they will also get into the groove of enjoying the proceeds. To do otherwise will amount to repeating the same mistake made during the pre and post colonial era when educationally developed states were made to wait for the less developed ones to catch up. This is against the principle of democracy.

In addition, if they are truly concerned about the development of Nigeria, they should concern themselves more with coming up with laws that would check financial impropriety at all levels of governance. This is what the PIB seeks to do in the petroleum industry.

Continue Reading

Politics

Rivers Crisis: PDP Chairman Hails Jonathan’s Call For Truce

Published

on

The Lagos State chapter Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Philip Aivoji, has described former President Goodluck Jonathan’s call to end the political crisis in Rivers as commendable.
Mr Aivoji commended Jonathan  in an interview with The Tide‘s source on Monday in Lagos.
Recall that Jonathan had on Monday implored Governor Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers  and his predecessor, (the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT) Chief Nyesom Wike, to sheathe their swords in order to douse the political temperature in the state.
The former president, who spoke at the inauguration of the N222.1 billion Trans-Kalabari Road construction, emphasised the necessity for Fubara and Wike to collaborate to promote the  progress and prosperity of Rivers State.
He noted that the political tension in the state was excessive and worrisome, and would not contribute to  development.
Jonathan said that destabilising Rivers State would adversely impact the Niger Delta region and could also trigger crises across the country.
Reacting to Jonathan’s admonition, Mr Aivoji described the former President as a man full of experience in mediation and conflict resolution, even at the international level.
“Jonathan is a leader in the party and a leader from South South; there is nothing wrong stepping in to broker peace. It is a good one,” the PDP boss said.
He, however, said that the former President should go further to speak the truth to the warring parties and point out  to each of them where they had erred.
“This is the way to settle issues. If we want to resolve it, we must tell the truth to them.
“The ex-President is an elder, he is an experienced person, who has been meditating in international affairs. Let us see how it goes,” he added.
According to him, the former President, being experienced mediator, must dig deep and probe the cause of the crisis.
“He (Jonathan) has seen it all. Peace of graveyard will not help the matter, they should resolve issues.
“We hope that the nitty-gritty will be looked into and the constitution of the party will be followed if they are true members of the party,” Aivoji said.

 

Continue Reading

Politics

Group Carpets Amaewhule Over Political Crisis In Rivers 

Published

on

A group, Coalition of Rivers State Leaders of Thought (CORSLOT) has blamed the former Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt Hon. Martins Amaewhule, for the escalation of the political crisis in the State.
The coalition, which stated this at a media briefing in Port Harcourt, said Rivers State would not have been in its current political situation had Rt Hon Amaewhule played the sacred role providence bestowed on him.
The text for the briefing which was read by the Convener, High Chief Sunnie Chukumele, and co-signed by Prof (Mrs) Reginah Azunwena, Odinaka Osundu, George Ijoma and Elder Anuage Menegbo, also commended Governor Siminalayi Fubara for his peaceful disposition despite the crisis, adding that this disposition has marked the governor as a man of peace.
“Pitiably under him, the world saw a legislative arm of government that was vehemently out to frustrate the executive arm with all sorts of negative actions against the governor and the government of Rivers State.
“Had Martins Amaewhule seen the state as sacred, he would have mediated in whatever were the issues between our former governor, His Excellency, Chief (Barrister) Nyesom Wike. Amaewhule failed woefully to play a stabilizing role which his exalted office gave him ample role to play”, they said.
The Coalition also called on former Governor Nyesom Wike to have a rethink on the political crisis in the state as he has a cardinal role to play in the resolution of the impasse.
“CORSLOT wishes to advise trouble entrepreneurs and eye service politicians of Rivers State origin to take note that power belongs to God Almighty and the people.
“Rivers people are taking note of these political actors.
“Rivers State is owned by Rivers people and not  self seeking politicians”, they said.
“We begin by appreciating the governor of Rivers State, Sir Siminalaye Fubara, for working assiduously for peace by embracing and working with the Presidential Peace Accord of 2023 and to state that it is in recognition of this that the governor has won awards and honours within the state and Nigeria”
The Coalition also thanked the Governor for attending to the needs and welfare of citizens of the state, particularly the welfare of civil servants and the planned employment into the Civil Service.
“CORSLOT further recognizes the governor’s attention on infrastructural development in the state with his continuation of projects he inherited from previous administrations and indeed his bold initiatives of new ones.
These come with spiraling advantages”, they added.
They also urged the governor to take immediate steps to fill his cabinet with men and women who have the capacity to add value to the State.

By: John Bibor

Continue Reading

Politics

Council Boss Hails Fubara Over Successful Project Commissioning

Published

on

Following the successful commissioning of the  Andoni Section of the Ogoni-Andoni- Opobo Unity Road by Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, the Chairman of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area, Hon. Enyiada Cookey-Gam has commended the number one citizen of the state for his multiple  infrastructural development projects that have direct bearings on the lives and well -being of Rivers people, especially in NgoTown, headquarters of Andoni Local Government Area and its adjoining environs.
The Chairman maintained that the road, as commissioned, will provide connectivity between coastal communities, cities, and hinterlands, facilitating the movement of people, goods and services, which enhances trade, commerce and tourism, and also contributes to local economic development and the local government area’s internally generated revenue (IGR).
On the event, Hon. CookeyGam lauded the efforts of the initiator of the project, 24 years ago, Dr.Peter Odili, former governor of Rivers State, for his determination and love for the people that found expression in the initiation of the Unity Road project which has been able to connect the catchment local government areas of Khana, Andoni and Opobo/ Nkoro, including the neighbouring states.
He described both Dr. Odili and Governor Fubara as beacons of infrastructural development.
The Chairman of Council also urged Andoni people to guard against vandalization and theft of the facilities that have been put in place for their betterment.
He further admonished the people of Andoni in particular, and Rivers people in general, to support the good work the Governor has come to do despite distraction from some politicians in the state who do not mean well for the people.

By: Bethel Toby

Continue Reading

Trending