On Monday afternoon, President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law, the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) 2021 that was recently passed by the National Assembly. The bill, which looks to liberalise Nigeria’s Petroleum sector has also come with its issues ranging from Host Community Fund to Frontier Development Funding which has left many, especially in the Niger Delta, dismayed.
The Senate had passed the bill on July 15 and the House of Representatives followed suit on July 16, ending a long wait since the early 2000s.
Leading opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party reacted, saying that signing the PIB was a display of disdain for the people of the Niger Delta. PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement published by Punch said, “PDP Berates Buhari For Signing PIB Despite Public Outcry…Says Action Confirms President Lacks Regard for Nigerians.”
“The party notes that the signing of the law, despite widespread public rejection, amounts to an endorsement of imposition and further confirms that President Buhari and his All Progressives Congress have no iota of respect for the people as well as the tenets of democracy as a system of government.
“By his action, President Buhari has only authenticated that he is not a listening leader and that the APC and its leaders are only out to trample on the will of Nigerians for their selfish interests.”
The PAN Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, also showed displeasure with the president’s signing of the PIB. In a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Hon Ken Robinson, published by Vanguard, they said:
“The Niger Delta people will speak, shortly, after full consultations on this callous act, on the best legal and political response.
“It is quite unfortunate that President Muhammadu Buhari went ahead to assent to the Petroleum Industry Bill despite the overwhelming outcry and condemnation that greeted its passage by the National Assembly, especially with regards to the paltry three per cent provision for the Host Communities Development Trust Fund and the brazen appropriation of an outrageous 30 per cent of NNPC Ltd profit for a dubious, nebulous Frontier Oil Exploration Fund.”
On social media, Nigerians also showed displeasure with the bill, @FS_Yusuf_ said, ”So President Buhari went ahead to sign that unjust and insensitive Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law? A Bill that defrauds the people of Niger Delta whose environment and health are already destroyed? This is preposterous! This is unacceptable!”
Seun Onigbinde, founder of BudgiT said: “Congratulations Nigeria on the PIB. There are still issues in that PIB especially on NNPC operational efficiency, liability mgt and divestment. The nebulous “host community” tag is also an issue. The fiscals can also be more competitive. But, half bread is better than none.”
The social media discussions regarding the bill were not as would have been expected, likely due to the fact that Nigerians had mostly displayed their displeasure when the Senate first passed the bill.
However, as some said, half a loaf is better than none, as Nigerians await details on the NNPC profit funding for frontier development and how the fund would work, who heads it and what determines a “ frontier state.”