Don’t personalise PIB bill, group urges
The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has frowned at provisions of the draft Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which unduly bestows discretionary powers on the President and the Minister of Petroleum, saying a PIB with the mandate of the people must be built around institutions and not individuals for it to be impactful.
ERA/FoEN suggested that such provisions be totally expunged from the draft PIB while issues such as award of oil blocks be made open to transparent and competitive bidding processes.
The call is coming on the heels of the Public Hearing on the Draft PIB organised by the House of Representatives in Lagos and Port Harcourt recently which was conducted in such manner that community and civil society groups were not adequately sensitised to be part of.
In a release over the weekend, ERA/FoEN wondered why information about the public hearing and date of the sittings were carefully shielded from community people, civil society groups, and other critical stakeholders while oil multinationals, petroleum marketers and their consultants had adequate information and were prominently represented at the sittings.
“While we applaud the House for organising the hearing, we are not satisfied that community groups impacted by the activities of the oil industry and in whose interest the PIB is being fashioned were not duly notified so as to make their observations known,” said.
ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, who delivered a memorandum on behalf of ERA/FoEN and civil society groups at the Lagos hearing, specifically listed certain critical areas of the PIB that civil society and community groups want reviewed before it is finally passed into law.
“The absence of community groups at the hearings seems to justify our call for a redefinition of Section 2 of the PIB 2012 which deals with the question of Sovereignty and Ownership. As against the proposal which vests ownership and control of all petroleum resources in Nigeria on the government of the federation, we propose that it be amended to reflect that ‘it is vested in the People of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”