The federal government yesterday announced the postponement of the Nigeria at 60 Jubilee Special Award ceremony, scheduled earlier to hold on September 3, 2021,
The Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, Chief Adeniyi Adebayo, made this known in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Ifedayo Sayo.
According to Adebayo the Nigeria @ 60 Award ceremony, was planned as part of Jubilee celebrations of Nigeria’s independence to honour 60 notable Nigerians, who had made immense contributions to the nation’s growth.
The minister regretted any inconveniences the postponement might have caused stakeholders and the general public.
Adebayo, however, said that a new date would be communicated in due course.
The special award ceremony was put together by the Ownership Subcommittee of the Nigeria@60 Committee.
It is in collaboration with a media and digital communication firm; `Say It Loud Limited’, under the chairmanship of the minister.
‘Nigeria Squandered over $400bn Oil and Gas Earnings in 60 years’
The Co-founder and Vice Chairman of Platform Petroleum Limited, Mr. Austin Avuru, has bemoaned Nigeria’s inability to use over $400 billion earned in the oil and gas exploration and exploitation in the last 60 years in the country to transform Nigeria and make life meaningful for the citizens.
Avuru also stated that oil and gas companies operating in the country spent over $40 billion on the oil-producing Niger Delta communities through the funds to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and other channels between 2001 and now, with no positive impact on those communities.
This is just as the Managing Partner at Olaniwum Ajayi LP, Prof. Konyinsola Ajayi (SAN), called on Nigerians to be moderate in their expectations from the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), warning that the law would be meaningless if it fails to impact on the life of ordinary citizens.
The two experts spoke in Lagos at the maiden edition of the National Petroleum Day organised by Platform Petroleum, where a book written in honour of Avuru was publicly presented.
The book entitled: ‘Laws on Oil and Gas Exploration and Production in Nigeria: A Text in Honour of Austin Avuru’, which comprised 41 chapters and 1,103 pages, was collectively put together by 43 young lecturers from different institutions.
Avuru, who is also the chairman of AA Holdings, made these comments while giving a summary of Ajayi’s lecture at the event, which was centered on ‘Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and the Rest of Us’.
He said so many ills had derailed the Nigerian economy and plunged the country into the unfortunate situation it is today, noting that some of those ills included poor governance at all levels of government, and the acceptance and celebration of mediocrity in the country.
He said those ills had resulted to the squandering of the over $400 billion oil and gas proceeds since the last 60 years.
Avuru said: “I’m sure that everybody that saw the title of the lecture in the programme would have thought he (guest lecturer) would come here and dissect the PIA and explain all the sections of the PIA so that you would leave here with the full understanding of the Petroleum Industry Act.
“But I tell you what he came to do. The title of his paper could have been ‘managing expectations’. It has taken 20 years, four presidents and nine sessions of the National Assembly to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into an Act, and expectedly, all Nigerians, on the day it was signed into law, had thought that Eldorado has arrived, and all our problems are hereby solved.
“And Prof. Ajayi is asking: after 60 years of the oil and gas industry with $400 billion earnings, why have the dividends of this great resource eluded us for 60 years?”
According to him, “Issues of poor governance across board, from local government level to the federal level, mediocrity that has been entrenched, our ability as a country to expect the best as our best, the ease with which we accept mediocrity and celebrate it.
“These are the core ills that brought us to where we are? These are the core ills that enabled us to squander $400 billion.”
He added that since 2001 till date, oil and gas companies operating in Nigeria had spent over $40 billion through the NDDC and other channels for the development of the oil-producing Niger Delta communities, with no positive impact on those communities.
He noted that $40 billion was more than the amount the Arabs used to transform Dubai into the centre of attraction it is today.
“What he did not say is there in his lecture-between the derivation proceeds, the proceeds to NDDC and funds spent by oil and gas companies in the communities in Niger Delta states since 2001. If you put them all together, is in the excess of $40 billion. That’s more than what the Arabs spent to transform Dubai from an unknown rural place to what it is today, and yet, what do we see in the Niger Delta?” He asked.
Warning that the PIA would not do any magic to save Nigeria from its ugly state if there is no change in the system, as stated by Ajayi, the petroleum expert advised Nigerians to expect less from the Act.
Avuru, who noted that the Act would have to be interpreted in courts, added that if the interpretation and implementation of the law fall in line with the usual injustice against the Nigerian oil and gas industry, Nigeria would end up chasing not only foreign investments out of the country but also local investments.
“So, if we don’t address those ills and you think that the PIA is the solution, Ajayi has managed your expectations. Do not expect too much, that’s the summary of what the professor has told us today.
“‘So, I will join Prof. Ajayi in managing your expectations. If we do not change as a country, this law may just be as good as we have been in the last 60 years. Not much will come out of it. Unfortunately, that is the message and that is my summary of what Prof. Ajayi has said today,” he said.
He wondered why there was so much expectation from the Act that came after 20 years and not more than 30 years to the end of the glorious regime of oil and gas, adding that the law was coming at a time the world was transiting from fossil fuels to clean energy.
Earlier in his lecture, Ajayi called for caution and moderation on the expectations of Nigerians from the PIA, warning that the law would be meaningless if it could not impact on the lives of the citizens.
In his posers, he asked whether the law took into consideration current realities, both locally and internationally, as well as the problems facing Nigeria as a country and tries to address them.
He also asked whether the PIA took into account the inefficiencies and mediocrity that had characterised the Nigerian oil and gas industry and made efforts to address them.
Ajayi, however, questioned the rationale behind allocating a paltry three per cent of oil companies’ operating expenditure to the oil-producing communities while using the proceeds from their land to fund others.