- Decry Lack Of Transparency, Accountability*
The Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) on Friday lamented that despite declaring profits in the last few months, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, NNPC Limited contributed zero to the Federation account this month.
Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of NGF, Kayode Fayemi, who stated this at the Governor’s Forum session which marked the end of the panelists’ session of the 5th edition of the Nigerian International Energy Summit (NIES 2022) noted that there are concerns around transparency, accountability and governance of the sector particularly as efforts are geared towards revitalising the industry.
In attendance at the Governor’s Forum session were also Kebbi State governor, Abubakar Bagudu, the representative’s governor of Ondo, Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Razaq Obe, representative of Bayelsa state governor, Ibieri Jones, Commissioner for Mineral Resources, and representative of Rivers state governor.
The NGF boss lamented that transparency is central to the challenge the oil and gas sector face, adding that Nigerians appear to be suffering more even though the oil prices in the international market.
“This is a time to talk about revitalization, the petroleum industry act has just been passed into law, even if governors have some issues as the Minister already knows, we do have with the law itself, and that is being worked on by the implementation committee but we think it is significant step 20 old years after that attempt started to review the 1969 petroleum act that has been the driver of the industry over the last 50 old year
“And clearly the gaps that have been noticed in growing the industry and growing the sector particularly in ensuring that we run a sustainable institution that would not only respond to the yearnings of the industry but also the general concerns of the Nigerian public. So the things that have been addressed partly in the law.
“For us as states that are beneficiaries of the goose that lays the golden egg, the oil and gas industry, we also are very desirous that this industry is sustained over the long term. We see areas of concern, particularly in terms of revitalising the industry around transparency around accountability around the governance of the sector.
“We’ve just had Federation allocation accounts. Committee meeting a couple of days ago, and the NNPC contributed zero to the Federation account this month and this is not the first month that the NNPC is contributing zero. Over the last couple of months, we’ve been having these challenges, of course, we know why.
“Even though oil prices in the international market is going up, maybe $110 today or more, the more it goes up it would appear that the more we suffer locally now. So there’s an ambiguous relationship of sorts between what is happening in the international market and what we’re experiencing here in Nigeria and as critical stakeholders in the Nigerian Federation, states are naturally concerned about this, they are concerned about how to grow this industry and ensure that this industry is sustained over the long term in a manner that it can benefit those who are stakeholders in the industry. That is partly why for us governments of the sector is a very, very critical thing to do. The PIA is responding to some of the issues that we have about that, but it’s like a typical transition.
“In every transition, the old is done but the new is not yet born you’re caught in the middle and there is a significant amount of confusion that happens in that transition period. I guess that’s what we’re experiencing now but the faster we can complete that process of transition, I think the better it is for us.
“Also because of the nature of the industry and the exclusivity of the industry in the constitution of Nigeria, States have always had their own issues. Whilst in principle, we understand why the industry is in the exclusive nature of the Nigerian constitution or in the exclusive list, We also feel we need to begin to look at this rather differently in a manner that strengthens the commitment to private sector development, but also strengthens the ownership across states, local authorities if they have the wherewithal to do this and also the federal government and when one of the things that states are interested in is how institutions, companies that they’ve created themselves or established as private sector entities either in joint venture partnership with other private sector entities or exclusively as a special purpose vehicle to warehouse state interests should be able to participate actively in the oil and gas industry, as we do.
“As I recall when I was in the Ministry of Mines we made it possible for states to set up a special purpose vehicle that can then apply for a license in order to actively participate in the mining industry be it gold or bitumen.
“So that’s in terms of revitalising the industry and ensuring sustainability over the long term, that’s an area that I think we need to look at.
“When you look at the statistics, transparency is central to the challenge this sector faces. On my way here, I was looking at the Natural Resources Governance Institute reports and Nigeria is not doing very well. We rank 40 out of 58 natural resource countries on the transparency index, because we are still believed to run a largely opaque industry and we see it ourselves
“NNPC declares profits yet it cannot meet its obligations. My simple knowledge of economics teaches me that it is only after you’ve met all your obligations, that you then talk about making profits. So if your obligation to the Federation account has not been met, how can you then talk about profit-making
“Local content is growing in the industry. I saw a report; Seplat buying mobile producing assets in the country. This is something that should be commended because Seplat is a local industry even though operating in the global market, I believe that there must be some positive to that and we must build on such initiatives as long as it is transparently done before.
“For us as states ultimately what we’re looking at is a situation where at some point even the industry itself could operate the way your LNG operates currently so that at the end of the day there’s greater transparency, there’s greater accountability and the governance framework is really built on the efficiency of the industry,” he said.