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.
NADCEL 2022: Army Embarks On Tree Planting In Barracks
The Commander, Army Headquarters (AHQ) Garrison, Major-General Kabir Garba, who conducted the exercise alongside other officers within Mogadishu Cantonment and barracks in the AHQ Garrison’s Area of Responsibility (AOR) such as Yar’aduwa Barracks and CBA extension, at the weekend, said the exercise was a stand against deforestation in the county.
According to him, the aim is to create awareness against deforestation and to support units under his command and the barracks community to take a stand against deforestation and participate in greening of the environment.
Garba added that the tree planting exercise was also in line with the Chief of Army Staff’s position on tree planting, adding that the Army Chief has always demonstrated it by planting a tree in all the building projects he inaugurated in recent times.
“It is also worthy to note that the exercise is in line with tree planting campaign of the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Buhari has pledged to plant 25 million trees in Nigeria to enhance the country’s carbon sink as part of the country’s efforts to implement the Paris Climate change agreement”, he said.
The Nigerian Army Day is celebrated across army formations and units on every July 1 to July 6.
The 2022 edition, which was billed to take place in Owerri, Imo State, commenced with a news conference last Wednesday, followed by Juma’at prayer on Friday while the interdenominational church services were held yesterday in all formations across the country.
Other activities lined up include humanitarian outreaches while grand finale would take place on July 6 in Owerri.
PDP Crisis: Wike’s Our Jagaban, Man Of Revolution –Atiku
Atiku said he holds Wike in high esteem, stressing that he was a man of revolution.
He disclosed this through the spokesperson of his presidential campaign, Segun Sowunmi, on Arise Television, last Friday.
He stressed that the Rivers State governor was a straightforward person who says things as they are.
“Wike is our own Jagaban; how do you explain a governor being able to keep other governors in line? One thing you can’t deny him is that he has the ability to say it as it is. He will not bend or colour things.
“Atiku holds Wike in high esteem, time and space may not bring them together, but he does. Wike is a man of revolution; he is one of the totems of PDP,” he said.
There are claims of crisis within the PDP following Atiku’s selection of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as his running mate.
Strike: Redirect Presidency, NASS Budgets, Others To Meet ASUU’s Demands, SERAP Tells Buhari
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), had last Thursday, said it would embark on a one-day protest to force the Federal Government respond to ASUU demands.
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has, therefore, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to “urgently recover missing N105.7billion of public funds from ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to fund the country’s public tertiary institutions, improve the welfare of staff members, and ensure that the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) return to class without further delay.”
SERAP said, “Pending the recovery of the missing public funds, we urge you to redirect some of the presidency’s budget of N3.6billion on feeding and travels, and the N134billion allocated to the National Assembly in the 2022 budget to meet the demands by ASUU.”
SERAP also urged him to “send to the National Assembly a fresh supplementary appropriation bill, which reflects the proposed redirected budget, for its approval.
In the letter dated July 2, 2022, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “Meeting the demands by ASUU would confront the persistent and widening inequality in educational opportunity, and promote equal protection for poor Nigerian children.”
According to SERAP, “The apparent failure by your government to agree with the reasonable demands by ASUU, implement the good faith agreement with the union and to satisfactorily resolve the issues has kept poor Nigerian children at home while the children of the country’s politicians attend private schools.”
The ASUU accused the government of poor commitment to the payment of academic earned allowance (EAA); poor funding, the continued use of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) and refusal to adopt the Universities Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), among others.
SERAP said, “Meeting ASUU demands would also ensure protection against the harms of discrimination and educational deprivation.”
The letter, read in part: “The poor treatment of Nigerian children in the country’s public tertiary institutions is inconsistent and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution and the country’s international human rights obligations.
“Widening inequalities in the area of education bear all the more dramatic consequences given the importance of education, as an empowering right, in giving the possibility to all to explore and realise their potential.
“Inequalities in education have a rolling effect, leading to even more and continued inequalities in the future.
“Apart from being a right in itself, the right to education is also an enabling right. Education creates the ‘voice’ through which rights can be claimed and protected, and without education people lack the capacity to achieve valuable functioning as part of the living.
“If people have access to education they can develop the skills, capacity and confidence to secure other rights. Education gives people the ability to access information detailing the range of rights that they hold, and government’s obligations.
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.
“Recovering the missing N105.7billion of public funds and redirecting the funds, as well as some parts of the presidency and National Assembly budgets to meet the demands by ASUU would end the protracted negotiations between ASUU and the Federal Government and improve access of poor children to education.
“Recovering the missing N105.7billion of public funds and redirecting the funds, as well as some parts of the presidency and National Assembly budgets to meet the demands by ASUU would also be in the public interest.
“The proposed spending of taxpayers’ and public funds would also be consistent with constitutional responsibilities and oath of office by public officers, as well as comply with Chapter 2 of the Nigerian Constitution relating to fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy.
“Recovering the missing N105.7billion of public funds and redirecting the funds, as well as some parts of the presidency and National Assembly would be entirely consistent with your constitutional oath of office, and with the letter and spirit of the Nigerian Constitution, as it would promote equal opportunities for poor children who rely on public schools and have no opportunity for university education elsewhere.
“SERAP is concerned that Nigeria’s public tertiary institutions have continued to experience a steady decline. The quality of public education offered is low and standards have continued to drop. The learning environment does not promote effective learning.
“Public school facilities are in a state of extreme disrepair, requiring major rehabilitation. Basic teaching and learning resources are generally not available, leaving many lecturers and other staff members profoundly demoralised.
“The failure to end the ASUU strike has hugely contributed to denying poor Nigerian children access to quality education, opportunities and development. The enjoyment of the right to education for millions of poor children remains a distant goal.
“Under international law, states are required to progressively implement socio-economic rights, including the right to quality education commensurate with the level of resources available. Gross misallocation of resources to the detriment of the enjoyment of the right to quality education can constitute a human rights violation.
“A violation of the right to education will occur when there is insufficient expenditure or misallocation of public resources which results in the non-enjoyment of access to education by poor Nigerian children.
“The failure to meet the reasonable demands by ASUU cannot be justified especially given the failure and/or refusal by the Federal Government to recover trillions of Naira reportedly missing in ministries, departments and agencies, and the huge funds allocated to the presidency and the National Assembly in the 2022 budget.
“According to our information, N105.7billion of public funds are missing, as documented by the Auditor-General of the Federation in his annual audited report for 2018. Also, while the presidency has budgeted N3.6billion for feeding and travels, N134billion has been allocated to the National Assembly in the 2022 budget.
“Furthermore, ASUU and other university workers’ unions have been on strike for several months. The unions’ demands, among other things, include better funding for the nation’s public tertiary institutions and improved welfare for their members.
“While your government has reportedly released N34billion for the payment of minimum wage consequential adjustments from 2019, ASUU has maintained that until its core demands are met, it will not suspend the strike.
“In protest of the continuous use of IPPIS and refusal by the Federal Government to implement the renegotiated 2009 agreement that was completed in May, 2021, ASUU resumed nationwide strike on February 14.”
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