• FG disagrees

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olisa Agbakoba, has called for the repeal of the Petroleum Industry Act, saying those who designed it made serious errors.

However, the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, disagreed with the legal luminary, stating that the PIA was a blessing to the nation’s oil and gas industry.

While addressing newsmen at a briefing in Ikoyi, Lagos State, Agbakoba argued that Nigeria needed to dismantle its oil and gas system and build a new one like that of Saudi Aramco.

Agbakoba wondered why the Act created too many agencies with overlapping functions.

“In the case of Saudi Arabia, there is a clear structure, and in discussing or reviewing our problem, I could see that the problem has to do with the infrastructure of regulatory legal processes.

“In Nigeria, the PIA should be repealed immediately because it creates too many agencies; it creates the upstream; it creates the downstream, and it creates over five to six agencies that you sometimes find it difficult to understand who does what. So, when there is a lack of clarity, in any process, there could be failure,” he stated.

The legal practitioner urged the government to set up a process by which local players would participate fully in the industry.

“The problem is local players, not the money. There is huge money to satisfy everybody’s needs. In fact, the revenue that is gushing from oil and gas, if tracked and retained, will leave Nigeria an extremely wealthy country, but it is not, because the President of Nigeria said he is the Minister of Petroleum. That is not possible.

“In Saudi Arabia, there is a minister for energy who covers electricity, hydrocarbon and all. Everything is under one domain. But when you have different ministers, there will be confusion. When the President is occupied by other concerns, hydrocarbon policies suffer. Hydrocarbon is a very expensive commodity. Our hydrocarbon gives us revenue. We have foolishly surrendered all our interests to the IOCs through the Production Sharing Contract.”

According to the former NBA president, there is an incoherent policy in the country’s hydrocarbon process that has caused it to commit some grave mistakes.

“The minister of state for petroleum is just a spare tyre; he does nothing. He has been overwhelmed by a superior force called the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited.

“The GCEO of NNPC today, under the PIA, wears two caps. It is so confusing when you read the act and cannot tell exactly what job the office does. He is the state regulator of oil; he is also an oil operator. So, he does two things, and he cannot do them well. Either you are regulating, like the minister of energy in Saudi Arabia, or you are a player, like Chevron.

“Because there is this weakness in the system, the IOCs take advantage and exclude Nigerians. If they exclude Nigerians from the proceeds, money is not going to come in. The reason we don’t have money in the oil and gas sector is that the system around it has completely failed. We need to dismantle the oil and gas regulatory system and build a new one,” he explained.

Agbakoba said the NNPC should be efficient like Saudi Aramco by refining the interest of the nation.

“The NNPC should be efficient like Saudi Aramco. It does not matter whether it is public or private. It has to refine the interest of Nigeria. The country unwittingly surrendered its real assets to the IOCs, who pretended to fund our oil wells. We don’t need any IOC to give us money. IOCs don’t add value, and this has been shown by Saudi Arabia not allowing IOCs,” he noted.

Asked to elaborate on why he thought the PIA should be repealed after many Nigerians struggled for almost 15 years to get it passed, the legal luminary replied, “Is the PIA a right or wrong decision? From what I read, when comparing PIA to Saudi Arabia’s energy infrastructure, please look at the PIA. The PIA is unconstitutional. Section 62 states that the NNPC can deduct money.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *