The controversy over the structuring of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) was eventually brought to a close on Friday as the National Assembly harmonised some key figures in the bill.
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Controversy over the percentage that should go to Host Communities became the first flashpoint weeks back as the Senate and the House of Representatives considered 3% and 5% respectively.
One other bone of contention between the different caucuses in the legislature and the concerned citizens is the 30% allocated for oil exploration in Frontier Basin states.
According to an estimate of oil revenue annual projections, Host Communities will generate at least $340 million at the proposed 3% share.
No one has clearly identified where ‘Frontier States’ identified in Section 9 of the PIB will be, neither did the PIB do justice to identify that. However, a statement by President Buhari in 2019 identified the frontier basins to include the Gongola Basin, Sokoto Basin, Dahomey Basin, Chad Basin, Bida Basin, Benue Trough, and others.
In a communique signed by the Governor of Ondo State and Chairman of the Southern Governors’ Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) in Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos State, the South Governor’s Forum laid bare their own intentions about the PIB and the form it should. They did not hesitate to insert how they prefer national revenues coming from the oil to be allocated.
As part of their motive for the devolution of powers concentrated in the centre with the federal government, the southern governors are proposing that an important revenue source as oil should be managed or vested in the Ministry of Finance and held in trust by Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) since all tiers of Government have stakes in that vehicle.
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Particularly, the forum suggested that the proposed 3% share of the oil revenue to the host communities should be upgraded to 5%. This proposition happened before the matter of percentage allocated to oil communities was stepped down by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
They also jointly rejected the proposed 30% share of profit for the exploration of oil and gas in the basins.
As providence has now presented the current picture of things where the infamous PIB matter seems to be cast in stone and National Assembly has had its way, one wonders if there is any more influence state governors can pull off with respect to particular regionally benefiting legislation the legislators from the South.
Other stakeholders such as the Pan-Niger Delta Forum have also described the provisions of the PIB as “unjust, satanic and provocative”.
Carving out a perfect PIB was never going to happen no matter how hard stakeholders tried. The more government officials such as the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari, remain at the helms of affairs, the more things remained the same. Yet the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has gone ahead to congratulate lawmakers on the jamboree bill.
The more impending reality is that whether there is infighting between Host Communities and lawmakers/politicians from the Northern states who look forward to profiteering from the largesse of prospecting oil in non-viable (frontier) states, the world is fast switching away from dependence on fossil fuels.
If the nation is not careful, the people may find themselves warring over a non-valuable resource in the nearest future.
Featured Image Source: BBC
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