The country has lost $200 billion, translating to N61.1 trillion, for failing to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), a Bill expected to provide the enabling law for the petroleum industry.
The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), which revealed this yesterday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take urgent steps to halt the unending delay in the passage of the Bill.
This was contained in NEITI’s latest policy brief, titled: ‘The Urgency of a New Petroleum Sector Law.”
NEITI attributed some of the losses to projected investments, which it put at $120 billion ($15 billion yearly), that had been deferred due to regulatory uncertainty.
Economically, NEITI stated that the losses incurred due to the non-passage of the Bill had been huge, stressing that it had caused a haemorrhage on Nigeria’s foreign reserves and the value of the Naira as the country imported refined petroleum products worth over $26.4 billion.
According to the report, the Nigerian petroleum industry has continued to deteriorate due to the fact that the laws governing the industry are not sufficient for effective regulation and, in some instances, too outdated to be relevant in today’s global energy environment.
“Though eight years in the National Assembly, the motion around the PIB has been on for all of 16 years. Sadly, there is little about what is going on at the moment to suggest real movement or adequate learning from the past. The PIB ship should be rescued from a start-stop, unhurried and uncoordinated mode and brought swiftly ashore,” the report stated.
It then recommended that, “There is need for President Muhammadu Buhari to take the lead by investing his presidential capital on this all-important legislation, putting in place a mechanism for rallying the stakeholders to a consensus, and using this law as one of the pillars of the bridge to a much needed economic recovery.”
Comparing the situation to that in Ghana, NEITI asked Nigeria to learn from that country.
“The fact that Ghana passed the law for its petroleum sector two years after commencing the process should be a lesson for Nigeria.”
NEITI, however, lamented that there is no evidence that Nigeria has learnt from its past experiences to guarantee that the present journey will be any different.
It noted that the current efforts at reviving the process of enacting the law are already exhibiting disturbingly familiar patterns and have added a new dimension on whether the bill should be taken en bloc or passed piece-meal.
“The process of enacting a new law for Nigeria’s petroleum sector has gone on for far too long, and at enormous costs to the country. More urgency and better coordination are needed on the passage of this very important bill.
“The PIB is one of the most important bills ever to be contemplated in Nigeria’s history, yet the one that has taken the most time and generated the most activity without legislation.”
NEITI asserted that as an agency set up to enthrone transparency and accountability in the extractive industries, it had legitimate interest in a petroleum law for the country.
NEITI, therefore, recommended that an inclusive task team be urgently empanelled, with the president in the lead, and charged with building consensus among stakeholders.
“This task team should draw up a clear and well-communicated roadmap and fast-track the passage of the law in piece-meal rather than an omnibus approach,” it said.