Amid concerns of poor implementation, Buhari says PIA his greatest achievement

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has said the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) remains his administration’s greatest achievement in the energy sector, amid criticisms of slow implementation of the goals of the Act.

The President spoke today at the ongoing Nigerian International Energy Summit (NIES) in Abuja.

He was represented at the event by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.

The Act, which President Buhari signed into law in 2021, aims at overhauling the petroleum sector in Nigeria by providing legal, governance, regulatory, and fiscal framework for the Nigerian petroleum industry.

“The PIA remains our biggest achievement in the energy sector. For decades, we were told that because of the various vested interests, it would be near impossible to pass the Bill.

“But we made it happen. What we did with the PIA, you will all agree with me, was simply revolutionary. And we did not rest on our oars with the enactment of the Act. We moved swiftly into action, scrapped the existing agencies and replaced them with new regulators – the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA).

“The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) was immediately transformed to a limited liability, the NNPC Ltd., with a new brand identity, and it is on course to becoming the biggest, most capitalised and most profitable company in the whole of Africa,” the President said.

Despite signing of the agreement, investors are worried that there is still no proper transition plan that spells out a clear implementation strategy that could win investors’ confidence.

Already, some investors are divesting their stake in Nigeria’s oil business over worries of an unfriendly business climate and regulatory inconsistency.

For instance, ExxonMobil, a foremost international oil company with a huge stake in Nigeria’s oil industry, had informed in a statement that it would embark on a force majeur.

The company declared, in a statement it issued yesterday, that it would be doing a force majeure on oil lifting from several ports in Nigeria, which would further weaken the country’s declining oil export potential.

The company cited industrial action by its workers’ union as a reason for its intention.

The government has also been going back and forth on the issue of the removal of fuel subsidy, which has seen the country spend trillions that could have been spent on health, education, agriculture and other infrastructure.

Prior to the coming in place of the PIA, lack of a fiscal framework to drive Nigeria’s oil and gas sector had seen the oil industry lose investments worth billions of dollars to neighbouring African countries with better fiscal management strategies.

Analysts said the government must learn from power sector failures and ensure there is no repeat of the same thing in PIA implementation.

“Government must ensure swift transition and avoid issues of carrying over any legacy debt to facilitate the swift transition,” a professor of Energy Economics at the University of Ibadan, Adeola Adenikinju, told The ICIR.

But Buhari has highlighted the reason for making the sector a priority of his government.

“Energy was, and will remain a top priority of my administration till my last day in the office. That is the reason we paid close attention and birthed a lot of reforms in the sector.

“We embarked on all these reforms not just because the move is good for the energy industry, but because it is also good for the overall economy. Our efforts, indeed, helped grow our economy and created a lot of jobs,” he said.






     

     

    Speaking on his interest in economic diversification, the President said the gas sector was a viable means of the transition from crude oil.

    “In the natural gas sector, we made a lot of progress. The agenda was the gas revolution. We pushed for the diversification of Nigeria’s economy and drive industrialization through domestic gas utilization. We officially declared Natural Gas as the transition fuel for Nigeria. We launched many initiatives to ensure that natural gas optimization and utilization are a reality.

    “The National Gas Policy of 2017 articulated the policy goals, strategies, and implementation plan to reposition Nigeria as an attractive gas-based industrialized nation through the prioritization of local gas demand requirements and we put in place a strategic framework to achieve the set objectives.”

    “We launched the National Gas Transportation Network Code (NGTNC) which was on the drawing table for several years. The network code is a set of rules guiding the use of a gas transportation system, a contractual framework between the network operator and the shippers which provide open and competitive access to gas transportation infrastructure.”

    Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.

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