ANEEJ Faults Minister’s Request for Secret Meeting with Senate on PIB


BENIN CITY……The Nigerian Honourable Minister for Petroleum Resources Minister, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, yesterday (Tuesday October 29, 2011) requested a secret meeting with the Senate on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). Mrs. Allison-Madueke made the request at a meeting with the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream)  following a question by a member of the committee, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, who wanted to know why the minister did not mention the PIB in her submission to the committee over what her ministry plans to do next fiscal year.

The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), a Benin based Civil Society Organisation leading a Coalition of Civil Society Organisations in the country on the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill has faulted the Minister’s request for a secret meeting with members of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream).

“We are appalled by the request of the Minister of Petroleum Resources to brief members of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) over a simple demand by Senator Abaribe who merely requested her to tell the committee what the government wanted the Senate to do with the Bill that lapsed with the Sixth Senate. Asking for a secret meeting with the senators showcases the unending opacity, lack of transparency and accountability that has become the sign post of the Nigerian Oil and Gas industry in spite of its being the first country to sign-on to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI),” says the Executive Director of ANEEJ, Rev. David Ugolor.

“This is not an era of secrecy in government. Secrecy gives room for conspiracy against citizens. The controversy that has trailed the PIB is enough for all issues concerning it to be put in the public domain and let’s debate them. We expected the Minister to give a straight answer to the question posed by Senator  Abaribe and not to request a secret meeting to provide what ought to be an innocuous answer. The Bill is not about the heritage of one individual or a group of friends. It is about the commonwealth of Nigerians. A Bill or Law is a public, not a secret document so the process of formulation of such a document must be open and transparent in line with democratic norms.

“It is for these reasons that  we want to urge the  Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) to make the meeting with the Minister public because all previous secret meetings around the Bill have not yielded any result. We fear that if policy issues as vital as the PIB are discussed in secret places, then our quest to achieving vision 20:2020 economic blue print will be a mere wishful thinking,” Rev. Ugolor cautioned.

“The PIB aims at bringing about sweeping reforms that would place our Oil and Gas industry at par with other civilized oil producing nations of the world. Discussing such an issue in secrete rooms is smacks of unseriousness, unpreparedness and weak disposition to face the monster in the oil and gas industry” adds Mr. Innocent Edemhanria, ANEEJ’s Policy Officer.

“For reforms to be meaningful to all stakeholders and for the reformist to be taken seriously, the process must be open and transparent.” Mr. Edemhanria says and averred that secret meeting connotes there is something to hide, which will not do both the Senate or the Honourable Minister of Petroleum Resources nor Nigerians any good.