Stakeholders at one-day capacity building and dialogue on oil sector reforms in Nigeria have lamented the annual loss of N3trillion in foreign investment due to the delay in the enactment of Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) and other reforms in the sector. The stakeholders including media professionals and industry experts noted that Nigeria cannot continue to cope with the opportunity costs of delayed fruition of the reforms initiative. According to a ten-item communique issued after the capacity building in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, the professionals urged the National Assembly to expedite action on the other petroleum industry reform bills. The stakeholders further stated that President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to decline assent to the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) represents a missed opportunity which to the rest of the world is signal that Nigeria is not serious about implementing reforms in the nation’s petroleum industry. The forum however urged President Buhari to suggest to the National Assembly immediate measures of addressing his concerns on the bill.
“The reasons which President Buhari adduced for his decision to decline assent to the PIGB were not accompanied by any suggestion of a possible pathway to addressing those reservations. The presidency should swiftly propose agreeable ideas to facilitate amicable resolution of the issues. ‘‘The global energy market is becoming crowded with new and ambitious oil-producing countries. Nigeria’s competitiveness in the global energy market is being hampered by her obsolete petroleum laws which serves as disincentives to investment.” The communique further indicates that capital investment in the global energy market follows the trail of business-friendly petroleum laws, therefore, Nigeria will continue to be a pariah nation to prospective investors until we conform the Nigerian petroleum industry to best international practices.
“There is no alternative to effecting policy reforms in Oil and Gas sector. The petroleum industry reform bills are the only viable means to democratize the benefits of petroleum resources for the good of all Nigerians. Decision makers and key actors should rid themselves of the psychology of exceptionalism. As a mono-product economy that is sustained by the lifeblood of petroleum, Nigeria is in danger of an existential crisis. Crude oil production volume is on the decline, oil revenues are dwindling and majority of the states of the federation are incapable of meeting their basic financial obligations, even with the supplement of bailouts handed out by the federal government. These are telltale signs of economic distress. “The descent of Venezuela, the country with the highest oil reserve in the world, into a dystopian economic crisis is a cautionary tale. Nigeria risks walking into a similar monumental disaster if she does not change course. “We call on decision makers and stakeholders to place national interest above vested interest and work in concert to make the petroleum industry reform laws go into effect,” the communique stated.
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