First rule you learn in general medical practice is that those with anemia are never allowed to donate blood. And this is what some government officials just forced Nigeria to do.
They forced a starving bleeding country to donate dollars to rich well fed Turkey. Everyday things are done by those in authority that stretch the elasticity of our endurance and tolerance to the limit.
At a time of national economic and security crisis when every kobo of the federal government should be channeled towards revamping the economy, it appears that some in government are looking for ways to waste our scarce resources.
That is exactly what came to my mind when I got the news that the Petroleum Equalization Fund Management Board (PEF-M) is currently hosting members of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) and their counterparts in the House of Representatives at a retreat on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in Istanbul, Turkey.
They are doing this with tax payers’ money. According to the report, PEF is spending scarce foreign exchange on this retreat at a time when the cash-strapped Federal Government is planning to borrow the bulk of $1.5billion to rehabilitate the 32-year-old Port Harcourt Refinery. Questions are being rightly asked about the propriety of spending billions of dollars on futile turnaround maintenance over the years.
The report published by LEADERSHIP and other media organisations also revealed that the PEF retreat could cost more than N7million per participant, adding that at the moment, return ticket to Istanbul is about N500,000.
An average hotel in the city of Istanbul cost about N150,000 per night and such a trip could attract up to $10,000 per person as estacode (N4.5million). The report also noted that since Nigerian public office holders crave foreign trips, this one may have attracted about 30 participants, costing the agency about N200million. What a way to waste scarce foreign reserve!
The decision to go to Turkey for the retreat begs many questions. Is it that there are no good hotels in Nigeria that could provide the conducive environment for the Petroleum Equalization Fund Management Board to hold a retreat for the joint committee of the National Assembly on Petroleum Upstream? And why Turkey?
These questions are important because Turkey is not known as a major oil producing country or as a major player in petroleum refining technology and thus has nothing to teach Nigerian legislatures on Petroleum Industry Bill.
Turkey is not in the top 10 oil producing countries in the world. According to a list compiled by the Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy, tagged, International Energy Statistics 2018, the top 10 oil producing countries in the world include; Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Russia, Nigeria, United States, China, Qatar, Brazil, Mexico, and Norway. Similarly, the world’s top ten super refineries are the Jamnagar Refinery in India; Paraguana Refinery Complex, North Western Venezuela; SK Energy Ulsan Refinery Complex Ulsan, South Korea; GS-Caltex Yeosu Refinery, Yeosu, South Korea; S
Oil Ulsan Refinery, Ulsan, South Korea; Exxon Mobil Singapore Refinery, Jurong Island, Singapore; Baytown Refinery, Baytown, Texas, USA; Ras Tanura Refinery, Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia; Baton Rouge Refinery, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; and BP Texas City, Texas, USA.
From the aforementioned top oil producing countries and refineries, it is obvious that Turkey has little or no value to add to the knowledge of our lawmakers to warrant going there for this retreat if this is not another jamboree or a way for bureaucrats to create opportunity to make money at the expense of the country.
The importance of the Petroleum Industry Bill cannot be overemphasized. Nigeria’s oil and gas sector, the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy, is still largely governed by the Petroleum Act and the Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT) Act, enacted since 1969 and 1959 respectively. Since the enactment of these laws, the global oil and gas industry has changed significantly from an investment, governance and fiscal perspective. Although certain obsolete aspects of the aforementioned Acts have been amended, their inadequacies are evident, contributing to the development of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB or “the Bill”), which was first presented to the National Assembly in 2008. Over 13 years later, the Bill is yet to be enacted, leading to increased uncertainty and hindering the flow of the desired investments to the Nigerian oil and gas sector.
On 28 September 2020, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration presented the PIB to the National Assembly for consideration. The Bill seeks to introduce pertinent changes to the governance, administrative, regulatory and fiscal framework of the Nigerian oil and gas industry, in order to ensure transparency, strengthen the governing institutions and attract investment capital, among other objectives.
President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, in January this year committed the National Assembly to an expeditious passage of the long-delayed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). Lawan, at a programme in Abuja to mark his 62nd birthday, assured Nigerians that the passage of the PIB will form the priority of the National Assembly when it resumes plenary. Lawan added that the legislature will give expeditious attention to the passage of PIB, which before now both local and multinational firms had worked to frustrate its passage.
While Nigerians welcome the prioritization of the Petroleum Industry Bill which would radically transform the oil sector in the country, they are pissed that in the course of prioritizing the passage of the bill the National Assembly and the Petroleum Equalization Fund Management Board have taken advantage of this to waste government scarce resources on questionable retreat in Turkey. We cannot be solving a problem and in the process create more problems for the economy that is already in dire strait.
Culled from Leadership Newspaper