The last may not have been heard on the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) as the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, told a Senate panel that she would require N6 billion to push through the proposed law that is presently before the National Assembly.
The campaign, she said, the lobby would include lawmakers of the National Assembly and other key stakeholders towards influencing the speedy passage of the PIB.
This is the second time the proposed PIB is being sent to the National Assembly for consideration and passage.
The ministry had in 2009 and 2011 rolling plan requested for the N6.2 billion to run an awareness campaign for the bill.
The sum of N110 million was believed to have been spent in 2011 on the failed bill which suffered a defeat in the sixth National Assembly in spite of the publicity it received through advertisements, press conferences and hosting of seminars.
The non-passage of the bill was attributed to the alleged clash of interest between the sixth National Assembly, executive arm of government and stakeholders in the oil industry.
It was gathered that the proposed law was discarded following a last minute gang-up in 2011 by some interest groups that infiltrated the National Assembly joint committees on Petroleum Resource (Upstream)
But Allison-Madueke, at a budget defence session yesterday before the joint committee of the National Assembly on gas, said her ministry would require about N6.090 billion to conduct comprehensive awareness campaign for the PIB. She also said that another N1 billion is needed to conduct full-scale assessment of oil-spillages in the nine oil-producing states.
According to her, “Only N110 million has been spent so far on the PIB and we are still going ahead with the awareness campaign. The sum of N94.5 million was spent on the programme in 2010 while N16.3 million was released in 2011 and 17.2 million was appropriated in 2012. The contract for the campaign was awarded to Hydraulic Research Company.”
Meanwhile, Allison-Madueke has denied any rift between her and the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngosi Okonjo-Iweala, even as she told the joint committee yesterday that the delay in the release of funds by the finance ministry did not help matters in the implementation of the 2012 budget.
She also ruled out the scarcity of petroleum product during this Christmas season, adding that the alleged widespread irregularities in the importation of fuel has to be resolved.
Allison-Madueke further said, while fielding questions from the lawmakers, that she only read about her alleged rift with Okonjo-Iweala in the newspapers.
She said, “The finance ministry only released 41 percent of the Ministry of Petroleum’s budget. There is no such rift between myself and the finance minister or any other minister in Mr. President’s cabinet. We try and ensure that now that verifications in terms of subsidy, the Aig-Imhokuede report have been completed, and payments are beginning to go out to the marketers, you can see already that petrol queues are lessening around the country.”
On assessment and documentation of oil spill, Allison-Madueke said N1 billion was estimated for it while the contract was awarded to Season Energy Limited just as N86.6 million was released in 2011 for the project out of the N179 that was appropriated for 2012.
According to her, “Out of what was released, we were able to handle 93 percent performance. Of course, we expect that the balance of our appropriated budget for 2012 would be released within the 4th quarter and it will allow us within the window of procurement which is up to the end of March next year to complete all our projects that are slated for completion this year and to progress on the ongoing projects for 2012 and go into 2013.
“So, on the basis of what we have seen and what we have done so far, we are quite okay that at the end of the procurement period, by the time the quarter four releases hit our accounts that the performance for the year would be pretty good.”
She further said, “We cannot eat our cake and have it. If we have exposed issues in the payment of fuel subsidy and manipulations in that system, then it has to be adequately investigated. And of course, that investigation meant also that payments phased in until the actual situation was verified.
“Now that that has been done, we hope that after a period we will get back on track in terms of resupplying of petrol to all parts of this country and we will try as much as possible to ensure that there is no logjam in fuel supplies this Christmas.”