Delta state born Hon. Ben Igbakpa, a member of House Representatives representing Ethiope East/Ethiope West constituency has this to say about the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is a significantly protracted Bill. Indeed, I can understand the backlash and disappointment that followed its passage at @nassnigeria. I share the same sentiments and given my inside knowledge; I can express my perspective.

True, the house of Reps passed the bill at 5% allocation for the host communities. But that is not the whole story. In fact, so much of the arguments and back-channel lobbying to get this bill to where it is today can not be exhaustively explained in a summarized form.
Legislation is very tedious, more so, when it concerns resource allocation and revenue appropriation. Lawmakers always try to blur the lines btw the expectations of the people and the reality of interests. Not quite easy when interest is permanent and expectations are undulating.

There are calls for the head of lawmakers from the Niger Delta particularly alleging that we did not do enough to impress the expectations of our people. That would have been a wild guess if I wasn’t aware of efforts put in by factions of the ND caucus in the national assembly.

The past few years have witnessed dramatic changes in the oil and gas industry. Currently in Nigeria, only @TotalEnergies is active across all streams of the oil and gas sector. Many companies are still struggling to operate in a badly affected oil and gas industry.

The focus of the PIB is to serve as a legal framework to decide the obligations of the Oil and Gas companies (including NNPC) and the Nigerian state (especially the host communities). The spelt out obligations also include a responsibility to ensure the survival of the companies.

The PIB is not perfect. No law in the world is perfect. PIB a relatively new pledge for ordering the intersecting affairs of all stakeholders – companies, the Nigerian state, and the Nigerian people. However, the bill has verified the byline of conflicting interests.
There is also the vague definition of “Host Communities”. I have always expressed the need for clarity on this because when a law is difficult to interpret, it leaves loops for technicalities and affords the discretion to misapprehend.

What constitutes a host community is an area I am uncomfortable with.
For many reasons, we all desire transparency in the @NNPCgroup and oil and gas resources development. What is paramount is the conscious development of the Host Communities, especially the ones where there are heavy exploration activities. That is my primary interest.

One thing is to set aside a frontier fund for the progress of the host communities, another thing is to disburse the funds. The burden of provision rests with the Federal Government, which is another grey area that intersects with Federalism. It leaves room for idiosyncrasies.
There is also the aspect of the revenue sharing formulae as determined by the @nassnigeria. In a prior understanding between the 2 legislative houses, 5% was agreed but the @NGRSenate review to 3% has generated a lot of animosities.

Because it is not cast in iron and steel, My hope is that it will be reviewed for concurrence with the resolution of @HouseNGR.
The oil companies also have their concerns as it concerns the percentage bar. They bear the cost and risk of the exploration of petroleum. Therefore, the mandated remittance must be fair to them as they also bear the burden of other regulatory compliance.

We want an industry that is competitive and lucrative for investors (foreign and local).
No denying the chance of influencing investment opportunities. The oil industry is struggling. It is the same globally, whether Qatar or Saudi, there is a compulsion to sustain the interest from investors to include the development of New Basins.

Nonetheless, the PIB is a milestone given the present circumstances. It presents a qualitative opportunity to take a good step forward. Often that is all that is required to start the journey of a million miles. There is going to be a transition in the quantitative benefits.

The law is amendable to show the positive demands from the oil companies and the regulator. While the bill in its current form is indeed not able to fulfil all our desires. But the reality is that we cannot “dictate” our demand through the constituted process of legislation.

I know that we applied our influence to improve the sector and welcome new methods to guarantee our inclusion. At the conference, we will continue to make debates for our people and ensure a harmonized bill that will give us a significant shot at progress, no matter how marginal.

I hope we can find a resolution in the shortest time so we can make progress. The bill in its current form will not settle everything. I have come to terms with that.

But at the table, whatever increases my people’s ability to benefit from what we have been denied is progress. I will always make progress.

Ben Igbakpa reacts to new PIB saga


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