The 31st Convocation ceremony of the Rivers State University, Nkpolu-Oroworukwo, Port Harcourt ended on Saturday with a call on the National Assembly to expunge sections of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) considered inimical to the overall progress of people of the Niger Delta region.
Speaking during the Convocation Lecture which held at the institution's Amphi Theatre earlier on Thursday, a former Group General Manager, Corporate Planning and Development of the NNPC, Dr. Joseph O. Ellah described the bill PIGB as 'a legal trick' targeted to deprive the people of the Niger Delta of their God-given wealth.
He advocated a complete review of the bill to produce a law that has consideration and respect for host communities, state and national economy, stressing that the bill should also ensure recognition for generations yet unborn, since according to him, “Our natural resources are for us and for all generations of Nigerians”.
He said the implication of divesting the nation's oil and gas sector as currently proposed in the bill has far reaching consequences, regretting that the PIGB as proposed implies the sale of the nation's oil and gas sector.
“Refineries may be divested according to carefully worked out structure of ownership and time-phasing to ensure that government retains a reasonable, though not necessarily majority share. NNPC could retain up to 40%”, he posited, adding that management of the sector could be by a refiner with proven record or if possible, jointly by NNPC and refiner.
He however submitted that the upstream sector of the oil industry should not be divested, stressing that the nation would be disadvantaged if it goes ahead with divestment, adding that all nations that have nationalized its oil and gas sector also create national Oil and Gas Companies to supervise them.
Ellah, a former World Bank Consultant and lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt also wants stipulated in the PIGB the provision that all regulatory bodies in the oil and gas sector must reflect federal character and also include representatives of the Niger Delta States.
“For economic inclusiveness, optimal development and utilization of our natural resources, all Niger Delta States, in line with the National Gas Master Plan, must embark on the creation of gas clusters/gas villages for the establishment of gas based industries, including ceramics, aluminum, steel, fertilizers, glass production etc etc.
“A Niger Delta pipeline infrastructure should therefore be put in place, rather than the current discussion on Trans-Sahara gas pipeline which is likely to kill the LNG plants and quicken total gas depletion from Nigeria”, he said.
Chairman of the occasion and frontline member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, Dr. Shedrack Akolokwu in his vote of thanks, commended Dr. Ellah for presenting what he called a master piece while recommending that the well researched work be embedded not only in the archives of the university but be included in its curriculum for learning.