Ita Enang, senior special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on national assembly matters (senate), says his principal was right to withhold assent to the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB).
Enang made the remark while speaking at a forum organised by NAN in Abuja on Tuesday.
The legislative aide said Buhari feels that the PIGB in its current form will create another “masquerade that would be a liability and debit to other tiers of government”.
He said if the president had signed the PIGB, it would have unduly enriched some of the new commissions and agencies provided for in the bill and make them “government inside a government”.
“The president also said that the PIGB is providing for the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) to take five per cent of the value of petroleum products consumed by all Nigerians monthly,” he said.
“If you calculate that, you will realise that what the Petroleum Regulatory Commission wants to take is equivalent to what six to eight states are taking in a month.
“The five per cent of the volume of consumption by all Nigerians proposed for the PEF is in multiples of billions of Naira every month and every day.
“The President is saying that the agencies are generating money for the federal, state and local governments; the Federal Capital Territory and its area councils.
“And, if they take that much, there would be no much money left for the other tiers of government from the Federation Account.
“Don’t forget the proposed Petroleum Regulatory Commission is an agency of the federal government, and the President oversees the Ministry of Petroleum.
“If he were selfish, he would have signed it believing that ‘after all, this money will come to the federal government which I head’.
“But, he is saying ‘I am the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; if you take those monies, there would not be enough money for the other tiers of government to carry out their activities.
“There will not be funds for them to create employment, fund agriculture, industrialisation and rural infrastructure. I won’t do it?”
He said Nigerians should embrace the president’s decision to withhold assent on the bill and instead look closely at the budgets of agencies in the oil sector.
These agencies he said, already had several sources of revenue, including licence fees, grants and appropriation from the national assembly.
Enang said that reserving an extra 10 percent or five percent for them as proposed in the PIGB amounted to duplication.
He alleged that the pressure for Buhari to assent to the bill was being sponsored by IOCs and their consultants, for “selfish interest”.
“We are already over-feeding and over-pampering the oil companies in Nigeria, and if they take so much and freight it away, Nigeria will still be bearing the ecological and environmental burden,” he said.