Amidst controversy over the proposed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), the minister of petroleum, Dr Rilwanu Lukman, has assured sceptics that when passed into law, the new bill will end corruption in the oil industry, as according to him, it seeks to remove confidentiality from all procedures, contracts and payments.
This position was made known last week when Lukman who was represented by the minister of state Mr. Odein Ajumogobia appeared before the Senate Joint Committee on PIB, which last week held a three-day high profile public hearing on the Bill.
Justifying the need to remove confidentiality from all oil related transactions, he said: “Confidentiality encourages corruption. The best way to fight corruption is to remove confidentiality for all procedures, contracts and payments. “Every Nigerian, including all stakeholders, should have the right to know what is going on”.
“The bill removes confidentiality on a scale not seen in the world before. Nigeria will move one step from one of the most opaque petroleum nations in Africa, to one of the most open and transparent in the world”, he explained further even as he stressed that Nigerian petroleum sector is shrouded in a lot of secrecy.
According to him, “the text of all licences, leases and contracts and any of the changes to such documents will no longer be confidential. Payments to the government of Nigeria will be public information. All petroleum geological, geophysical, technical and well data will be accessible for all interested persons in a national data base.”
He posited further that the bill will aid transparency, even as he assured that “from now on, petroleum prospecting licences and petroleum mining leases can only be granted by the Minister through a truly competitive bid process; and such process would be open and accessible to all qualified companies.”