By Edward Uhara
After a tour of some oil producing communities in the Niger-Delta region, coupled also with the unacceptable state of poverty, under-development and environmental degradation witnessed in the zone, I was compelled to join the campaign for the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) currently before the National Assembly in to law. What I saw during the tour was more than what any lawmaker or politician in Abuja or elsewhere can imagine or give as reason for still opposing the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill into law! It’s all about communities whose means of livelihood has either been completely destroyed or is on the verge of outright destruction if nothing is done urgently! For example; in Southern Ijaw, the Largest Local Government Area in Bayelsa State whose means of existence is fishing are beginning to curse the day oil was discovered in the area.
However, I heeved a sigh of relief when I downloaded the original copy of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) currently before the National Assembly and studied it in a layman’s way. It was then that I discovered that, apart from the Niger-Deltans who will benefit from the bill, “Ibrahim”, my friend from Kaduna State who left school many years ago, but, is still without job will also benefit from it. This is not to mention the favourable business climate it will create for oil and gas companies operating in Nigeria. Especially now that most International Oil Companies are leaving Nigeria because of the discovery of Shale Oil in the United States of America (USA).
The PIB will also promote the use of local content in the three sub-sectors of the oil and gas industry for the benefits of all Nigerians in terms of employment creation and procurement contracts for our local contractors. These three sub-sectors are; the downstream sub-sector, the midstream sub-sector and the upstream sub-sector. The downstream sub-sector deal’s with the refining of crude oil, marketing and distribution of products like petro or gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel, asphalt, petroleum coke among others. The midstream sub-sector deals with the storage and transportation of crude oil and natural gas. In a layman’s word, it is the movement of crude oil and allied natural gas from the production site to the processing plants or refineries. While the upstream sub-sector usually referred to as the searching sub-sector deals with the searching, discovery and production of crude oil and natural gas. In other words, this sub-sector is called the “Exploration and Production” sector (E&P).
So, if the Petroleum Industry Bill currently trapped in the National Assembly is passed in to law, Nigerians of all class; whether educated or not would be gainfully employed as well as secure various procurement contracts from dredging companies, seismic survey companies, depot construction companies, petroleum product haulage and marketing companies, gas development and conversion companies, marine survey companies, rig provision companies among other numerous opportunities the passage of the PIB in to law will bring to Nigerians of all class, creeds and regions. The employment this will provide for all Nigerians will go a long way in reducing the unemployment and crime rates in the country. It will also increase government revenue and services it will render to Nigerians!
However, some of those opposing the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill in to law are hinging their opposition on the taxing aspect where the Hydro Carbon Tax for the upstream sub-sector operators would be 50 percent while the Oil Companies Income Tax would be at 30 percent totaling 80 percent when the two are combined. Before I proceed, I want to categorically state that the PIB is a victim of misrepresentation of facts, because, the extant law governing the oil and gas sector which is the Petroleum Profit Tax Act (PPTA) makes oil companies to pay between 67 percent to 85 percent as tax plus other costs and settlements they have to make, but, here is a bill before the National Assembly that wants to make it simpler for operators, yet, some persons are saying the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill in to law would overtax oil companies.
I think that the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill in to law would be of great advantage to Nigerians because, as the current Amnesty Programme of the Federal Government expires in 2015, some treacherous ex-militants who are threatening hell if the programme is stopped next year, would have no reason for going back to the creeks with arms to continue with the armed struggle.
Comrade Edwin Uharavia email@example.com