Why Buhari Refuses to Sign Petroleum Industry Bill

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By Jennifer Omiloli

Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige has justified the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the Petroleum Industry and Governance Bill(PIGB), saying the decision was to protect the interest of indigenous oil firms, especially taking control of the local content policies in the country.

He said government through its indigenization policy of the oil and gas industry which later culminated in the enactment of the Nigerian Content Act, 2010 somehow exposed how foreign expatriates would have continued to dominate the industry till date.

Ngige, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Ibikun Odusote gave the disclosure on Wednesday in Abuja, at a programme commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG).

He lamented the dearth of capacity in the industry, saying in spite of the fact that oil was discovered in Nigeria over 60 years ago, the neo-colonial stakeholders(Indigenous Firms) have not made conscious efforts to control the petroleum industry effectively.

He said these factors necessitated deliberate policies of government some of which cut across Indigenization Decree, Petroleum Act, Petroleum Technology Development Fund Act, National Office of Technology Acquisition Act and Petroleum (Drilling and Production) Regulations among others.
“The Minister of Interior has been prohibited from giving visas to foreign workers whose skills are readily available in Nigeria. Thus, by the combined effect of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Content Development Act, 2010 and the Presidential Executive Order No. 5 of 2018 Nigerian employees shall be given highest consideration in the oil and gas industry.

“Since the industry requires skilled staff in many areas both the NUPENG and PENGASSAN should invest in the training of their members to acquire the requisite knowledge in petroleum technology. To that extent, both unions should ensure that scholarships are given to deserving Nigerian by the PTDF to acquire requisite knowledge in petroleum technology, ”he stated.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has prohibited the Ministry of Interior, under the purview of Abdulrahman Dambazzau from issuing visas to expatriates in the oil and gas sector.

The decision was a sequel to provisions of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Content Development Act, 2010 and the Presidential Executive Order No. 5 of 2018 recently signed by the Presidency.
The directive was limited to foreign oil workers whose skills are readily available in Nigeria.
He advised that since the industry requires skilled staff in many areas both the NUPENG and PENGASSAN should invest in the training of their members to acquire the requisite knowledge in petroleum technology.

He said they can leverage on scholarship schemes offered by the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) to acquire requisite knowledge in petroleum technology.
To that extent, both unions should ensure that scholarships are given to deserving Nigerian by the PTDF to acquire requisite knowledge in petroleum technology.
Meanwhile, former Executive Secretary of NUPENG, Frank Kokori lamented the dearth of proactive leaders in the labour circle, most of whom he described as “bread and butter unionists”
His words, “Nigeria lacks a reservoir of freedom fighters”.

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