Oby Ezekwesili, former Minister of Education and a staunch critic of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has expressed her disappointment with the President’s refusal to sign into the law the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB).
Ezekwesili is not happy with the lingering uncertainty associated with oil sector due to lack of legal framework and has called for the deregularization of the sector, noting that the lack of the bill fuels the attitude of political leaders who always want to have control over the oil and gas industry.
The former minister and progenitor of the Bring Back Our Girls group said that once the sector is deregulated, most presidential aspirants would not want to contest for the position.
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She made these declarations at a Presidential debate tagged ‘Oil sector, Reforms, Revenue and Stabilization’ organized by Order Paper Advocacy Initiative on Wednesday, September 26, 2018, held at the Eko Hotel, Lagos.
In her speech, Ezekwesili said:
“I recall when this government first came in and there was the discussion of subsidy or no subsidy, and I said it was supposed to be their opportunity to deregulate the sector.
Deregulating the sector would put a stop to politicians wanting to have control of oil sector. You don’t need it except if you are inclined towards certain kinds of things.
The only thing that will stop such is to deregulate the sector. The day the petroleum sector is fully deregulated, there will be people who will never think of wanting to be the president of Nigeria because, for them, that is the slothfulness of leadership.
That is not the kind of leadership that a nation like Nigeria deserves. Now, we look at the fuel consumption figures and the distortions permit unsubstantiated demands.”
She also lamented the fact that the 1999 constitution of Nigeria has a provision that does not encourage saving which is evident in the oil sector.
“We have a constitution that does not permit you to save. It simply has a provision, I think in section 82 that once it (money) enters the federation account, it should be distributed.”
Ezekwesili further highlighted data integrity as one of the issues concerned with the revenue of oil management, especially with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
“It starts with the body responsible for running the section on behalf of the government. Now, if NNPC stops being almost like an establishment of government and puts itself through market discipline, it would not have any problem with data discipline because the market would immediately punish that bad behavior.”