PIGB on its way to Buhari’s desk

It started as the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) introduced nearly ten years ago, and aimed at reforming the petroleum industry in Nigeria. It was actually described as “An Act to establish the legal and regulatory framework, institutions and regulatory authorities for the Nigerian petroleum industry, to establish guidelines for the operation of the upstream and downstream sectors, and for purposes connected with the same.”
It is generally recognised among well-informed stakeholders that the major challenge to the advancement of the nation’s oil and gas industry is the existing framework. A notableweakness of the present structure is the absence of clearity of roles, in addition to self-regulation, conflicts and unnecessary overlaps.
The passage of the bill was a dominant item in the reform agenda of the former Minister for Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke. It was so important that when the Permanent Secretary of the ministry appeared before the Senate Committee on Gas for the defence of ministry’s 2014 budget, it was revealed that N500 million had been spent on radio and television publicity for the bill. 
The details of that sensitisation and mobilisation can only be best explained by the powerful minister and her ministry. Years passed and senators debated, but the PIB never saw the light of the day. Every legislative year was heralded by a promise to conclude the legislative process on the bill, but the years also ended without a closure on the bill.
The current Senate at inauguration did promise to expedite the passage of the bill, considering its importance to the advancement of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. Moving in the same direction, the House of Representatives promised to do same. The first step in that direction was the unbundling of the PIB into smaller compartments, which include the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB),Upstream Petroleum Administration Reforms Bill, Downstream Petroleum Administration Reforms Bill, Fiscal Framework & Reforms Bill, and Revenue Management Reforms Bill. This unbundling allows the legislators to treat the sections of the initial PIB separately but as part of a whole. True to purpose, the legislators expedited action starting with the PIGB. And, on 25th May, 2017, the Senate passed the PIGB opening a channel for the reform of the oil and gas sector in the country. 
The PIGB passed by the Senate establishes delineation and interaction/overlap among existing and proposed institutions in the nation’s oil and gas industry. Experts have classified the institutions captured in the passed bill into four broad areas including policy formulation, regulatory institution, commercial institutions, and ancillary institutions that are expected to provide specific support services apportioned to them.
It is no news that the oil industry is responsible for more than 90% of the government’s foreign income; however the industry has the potential to contribute more to the nation’s economy, if the right legislative framework is provided. The Petroleum Industry Bill seeks to fill this existing gap starting with the PIGB. This is why stakeholders in the industry were elated when the Senate passed the PIGB last year. 
With that feat, many were waiting on the House of Representatives to follow in the steps of the upper chamber, in order to pave way for the bill to quickly become an act. Commendably the House of Representatives passed its version of the PIGB on January 14, 2018. The most gratifying news now is that the House passed the same version of the bill as the Senate, which presupposes that there will be no need for any harmonisation. The bill is soon to arrive at the desk of President Muhammadu Buhari for his immediate assent.

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