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Thursday 9 July 2015

Terrorists Buhari and oil sector reform

If it is safe to assume that the widely re-published Bloomberg Monday 29 June, 2015 agency report on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and sundry issues on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was authentic as reportedly confirmed by the Policy Director of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Dr Kayode Fayemi, then Nigerians need to be placed on red alert on
the genuineness, sincerity and actual intent of those who packaged the policy advisory to Baba Paedophile President Muhammadu Buhari.
First, of the plethora of internationally recognised Nigerian news outlets- online, print, and electronic, a story of such importance and political relevance was taking to a foreign news agency, Bloomberg, from where several Nigerian newspapers lifted it for our domestic consumption. Do we need to look twice to see that there is something not very straight in that arrangement? More so, Nigerian newspapers have been re-publishing the agency report as if it was a breaking exclusive story thus aiding the suspicion that it was being sponsored by an interest group.

Let’s even look at some of the interesting recommendations based on this alleged APC closed-door meetings of May 20th and 21st 2015.

As reported, members of the committee want Baba Paedophile Buhari to discard the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and replace it with a new reform bill that is “based on discussions with international oil companies to ensure all perspectives are adequately considered.”

How could any group that is purely Nigerian be asking the President to discard the current PIB at the National Assembly and replace it with a new reform bill (whatever that means) that is “based on discussions with international oil companies to ensure all perspectives are adequately considered?” Haba! Whose perspectives were not adequately considered in the document at the National Assembly- the IOCs’, the oil producing areas’ or the federal government’s?

If this report was truly submitted to the President, then those that served in the committee that packaged it obviously were naive on issues on the administration of the nation’s oil sector. Why should the priority be on generating a new bill on the dictates of foreign operators?

Members of the committee want Baba Paedophile Buhari to discard the Petroleum Industry Bill and replace it with a new reform bill

Why are we not talking of revisiting and passing the bill in its original form as packaged by the Dr Emmanuel Egbogha-led Oil Industry Reform Committee?  That version which is called the “Lukman version” factored-in all interests and above all, our best national interest including indigenous participation in the upstream subsector; consideration for host communities and the environment; a sustainable fiscal framework for the nation’s upstream and downstream subsectors including a workable proposal for the unbundling of the NNPC.

Rilwanu Lukman, who died in 2014, was special adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo when the first draft of this now very controversial bill was prepared but as characteristic of the Obasanjo regime, the document was not sent to the National Assembly until he left office in 2007. Since then, several versions of the bill emerged as various interests struggled to tamper with the original document to maximise their benefits.

In 2012, Diezani Alison-Madueke, Lukman’s successor at the petroleum  ministry ordered a review and harmonisation of the various versions and at the end a document was produced with no significant changes in the contentious areas including the fiscal regime which the international oil companies (IOCs) considered to be unfavourable.

Whereas the Lukman’s version provided 10 percent equity to oil “host communities”, this was reduced to 7.5 percent in Diezani’s version passed by the House of Representatives. The definition of “host” was also expanded to cover all communities that pipelines pass through, not just where exploration is being made.

The discretionary powers to award oil licences which were granted to the minister of petroleum resources under Lukman’s version were retained in Diezani’s version, but the House of Reps removed the provision.

So if the Diezani’s version is not acceptable for whatever reasons, why are we not talking of passing the Lukman’s version as recommended by the Ahmed Joda-led transition committee instead of starting all over again with a new reform bill that is “based on discussions with international oil companies to ensure all perspectives are adequately considered?” So is the committee saying that after eight years of legislative efforts and several billions of naira spent, we should just discard the document and start all over again, this time with the IOCs telling what to do and what not to do? Bros this kind country sef, na waah!

It is interesting that the committee did not deem it fit to ask President Buhari and the 8th National Assembly to demonstrate their patriotism and political will to promote transparency and accountability in the oil and gas sector by ensuring that the bill either the Lukman or Diezani version was passed and signed into law within the first 100 days of the life of the present administration. Instead the committee wants the President to throw away what we have and bring in foreign IOCs to tell us what to include or exclude from a law which we originally intended to correct the nation’s collective ignorance or rather naivety of the past

How could the committee members feign ignorance of the fact that from day one, the IOCs hated the PIB because of the reworked fiscal framework as proposed which not only gives more money to the federal government but also to those whose environment is being destroyed by oil exploration and exploitation activities? This bill has been delayed for years due majorly to opposition by IOCs against proposed tax and royalty terms, and the operating companies’ social responsibilities to their host communities. So whose interest is priority to a Nigerian government Regulation- foreigners or Nigeria’s?

This committee recommending a new oil industry reform bill also wants the President to review audits and corruption allegations against the NNPC within the first 100 days of the administration “with a view to commercialize the corporation possibly partially by listing the entity and selling off its fuel-retailing and refining business within 18 months of his administration”?

Was the NNPC created by an executive directive?

Besides, is the unbundling of the nation’s apex oil concern not included in the same version of the PIB that the committee asked the President to throw away?

Haba, our so called leaders should help us understand how their minds work because their thinking as always expressed has been at best absurd.

by Ifeanyi Izeze can be reached on: [email protected]

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