Department of Broadcasting

Claude Ake School Round-Table Picks Holes In New PIB By Obinna Nwodim

Following passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill and the call by the National Assembly on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign it into Law, stakeholders have strongly advised the President against giving assent to the contentious Bill, warning that it would spell doom for critical stakeholders.

Rising from a Round-table organised on the issue by the Claude Ake School of Government (CASG) on Thursday, April 12, 2017 located at No. 14 William Jumbo Street, Port Harcourt, participants not only picked holes in the proposed Bill, but also warned that it would further impoverish the people of the Niger Delta and Nigerians in general if it is passed into law in its present form.

In his presentation, a former Group General Manager of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Joseph Ellah, sounded an alarm that signing the Bill into law would impact negatively on the people of the Niger Delta region and Nigeria as a whole. Dr. Ellah believed that the PIB in its present form represented the interest of a few persons who were bent on mortgaging the interest of the next generation for their selfish interest.

Dr. Ellah, whose paper was entitled: Implications of the New Petroleum Industry Governance Bill for Nigeria, Niger Delta and the Common Man, urged Nigerians not to sit back and watch a few self-centred individuals mortgage their future to achieve their pecuniary interest. He warned that passing the Bill into law would impoverish the Niger Delta region and water down the powers of the President in the petroleum sector. “It will distort in a near permanent way the economic balance of the nation and create a false sense of wealth without work. It will also create poorer masses by virtue of the gap between the rich and the poor who would be left with nil purchasing power,” he stated.

Dr. Ellah, who is Chairman of the CASG Governing Board made further revalations: “There is a group of people whose main objective is ownership of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. They are the ones promoting the passage of the Bill which end game is to sell off the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation.” He questioned the rationale behind the proposal to sell off such a huge national asset when most of the major oil producing countries of the world jealously protect their national oil corporations. Dr. Ellah advised the Federal Government to ensure that Nigerian oil assets were made to work optimally to serve the interest of all people, adding that even if they would be sold, the Niger Delta region should be made to own 50% shareholding in the interest of equity and peace.

In his remarks, Director of CASG, Professor Eme Ekekwe, spoke along the same line, warning that Nigeria's oil infrastructure should be regarded as critical national assets that should not be auctioned away to the highest bidder. “The Bill as it is presently conceived totally displaces the people of the Niger Delta from their commonwealth. Those pressuring the President to sign the Bill appear to be bent on using the instrumentality of the law to corner the national wealth to the disadvantage of other critical stakeholders. Even the late General Sani Abacha appeared to have recognised the deficiencies inherent in the PIB and refused to sign it. His successor, General Abdusallami Abubakar did not sign it and so President Buhari should not sign it too,” Professor Ekekwe advised.

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