By Gift Samuel
Abuja-The Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) has raised alarm over the Petroleum Industry Governance(PIG) Bill passed by the senate in May 2017, saying that it is inadequate,lacks clarity and intention and should be jettisoned.
The group however said that the PIG Bill which is a version of the famed Petroleum Industry Bill(PIB) should be reworked to reintroduce important and serious issues like host community equity/ interest and environmental issues such as banning of gas flaring.
Speaking to newsmen at a press briefing in Abuja on Wednesday, the Director, Social Action, Dr Isaac Osuoka stressed that the version of the PIGB passed by the Senate is an unconscionable attempt to legalize the appropriation of national oil and gas assets to some powerful private interests both foreign and local.
According to him; “It is unfortunate that the PIG Bill as presently passed by the Senate does not recognize the reality of the need to make new legal regimes to address the multifaceted aspects and to tackle the numerous crisis that have bedeviled the petroleum industry, Nigerian economy and society in itself. You cannot take institutions alone as governance.
“A new legal regime that is comprehensive should be tabled before the the National Assembly and other stakeholders for consideration simultaneously and should take into consideration all the needs of Nigerians whether in Bayelsa or in Borno state, they have the right to energy security and the State, National Assembly and the executive Arm of government should work to protect that as a priority and this bill doesn’t address that.
“That will show transparency on the part of the government and give opportunity for relevant stakeholders, civil society organizations, environmentalists and sustainable development advocates to do proper analysis of the legal regime to ascertain its relevance to issues of environmental protection, termination of gas flares, fiscal accountability and transparency, easy access to justice and host community development and equity. Anything less may not be good for the petroleum industry, stakeholders and the Nigerian populace” he said.
While noting that the bill does not have any part or section dealing with environmental protection, he called on the National Assembly to promptly return to the 2015 version of the PIB as regards to the environment, adding that the 2015 version has clear and effective environmental protection provisions and regulations for the petroleum industry.
He however noted that the vacuum of the non-effective and clear-cut provision (s) for Health, Safety and Environment in the bill is disturbing and lamentable.
Osuoka emphasized that what ever version of the bill that is being discussed should be made available for the Nigerian people to see and look at them comprehensively to ensure that the concerns of the people have been addressed.
In addition, the Head, Social Action Abuja, Vivian Bellonwu-Okafor added that mutilation of the bill could be a ploy to end up having nothing, adding that if the intentions are credible, there should not be a need of mutilating the bill.