Journalists across the federation at the weekend called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) into law to engender necessary reforms in the oil and gas sector.
In a 10-point communiqué issued at the end of a roundtable in Enugu, the stakeholders maintained that the withdrawal of assent by the president was a disservice to reforms and foreign direct investments.
The participants noted that the decision represents a “disheartening setback on efforts to actualise policy reforms in the Nigerian oil and gas sector, a quest which was initiated about two decades ago.”
The document observed that the withheld assent was a missed opportunity to advance the commitment of the current administration to modernise the architecture of the nation’s petroleum laws to rid the industry of opaqueness and inefficiency as well as introduce a regime of international best practices, transparency and accountability.
It held that the development portrays to prospective investors and sectoral players the absence of political will to alter the fundamentals, adding that this would inevitably increase losses and capital flight. Indicating that they would sustain pressure on the piece of legislation seeing light of day, the media practitioners stated that the huge potential of the proposed law to create wealth, jobs and increase the country’s competitiveness in the global energy market ought to take precedence over political considerations.
They warned that the descent of Venezuela to a dystopian basket was a testament to what failure to reform the industry could portend owing to the fact that the industry was the national cash cow and most critical sector of the economy.
The journalists added that the industry’s capacity to fulfill its traditional role was increasingly being undermined by obsolete laws, even as recurrent deferments of necessary policy reforms were setting the country up for an existential economic crisis on the scale of the Venezuelan nightmare.
The communiqué read in part: “Nigerian journalists have a responsibility to deploy their skills and platforms towards pressurising all key actors to take urgent actions needed to reposition the petroleum industry to benefit all stakeholders and guarantee sustainable business environment.
“Nigerian journalists can be the game changers in this seemingly intractable reform process. They are well positioned to exert influence on the public and the critical mass of key actors for an inclusive advocacy campaign that will rally all Nigerians around the win-win positives of the petroleum industry bills.”