Nigeria’s oil resources skewed to enrich elite —Dogara

SPEAKER of the House of Representatives, on Monday, alleged that the nation’s oil resources was skewed to enrich the elite.

To address the perceived gap, Dogara said the National Assembly would engage with stakeholders on contentious issues as it began work on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

The Speaker, who stated this at the National Stakeholders Summit on Petroleum Industry Reforms, organised by the House Committee on Petroleum, in Abuja, said the legislature was determined to draft a law for the industry that would be in the best interest of Nigerians.

According to him, “Nigeria is one of the richest petroleum regions of the world. Paradoxically, it has never been able to maximise effectively its immense oil and gas potentials and the revenue accruing from it.

“The downstream operates in a state of almost continuous malfunction, and for years has been characterised by comatose refineries and an inefficient downstream.

“It operates under an  inadequate legal framework, with an inefficient and poorly maintained pipeline network and depot system.

“The result is that Nigeria is both one of the world’s largest producers of crude oil and one of the world’s leading importers of petroleum products, a dependency that has enriched the elite at the expense of the increasingly impoverished masses.

“The downstream runs on a system of subsidies until recently and uniform pricing which has proved ineffective, in addition to being administered in a very opaque way.

“Shortages and inadequate supply have characterised the Nigerian downstream for over two decades and can be described as an example of system failure.

“The upstream has not fared better either. Pipeline vandalism, large-scale environmental degradation and the world’s highest levels of crude oil theft have been constants for several years.

“Decades after the advent of Nigeria’s petroleum industry, problems which led to host community agitation remain unaddressed and highly politicised and the question of the extent to which revenues from the industry should be shared among the three tiers of government and the people remain, as do the content and limits of corporate social responsibility.

“These are all crucial issues that should be addressed to guarantee and ensure a stable polity in Nigeria,” he said.

On the proposed PIB, Dogara said “the need to make consensus and lend a voice to long suppressed agitations in the drafting and consideration of petroleum industry bills informed our decision to organise this stakeholders’ summit.

“We are optimistic that this approach will provide the crucial platform to enable us to cross-pollinate ideas and ventilate our positions on certain contentious issues, regardless how vexed they may be. You can be rest assured that our work at the National Assembly is to do your good intention.”