Olisa Agbakoba Calls for Repeal of Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry Act, Citing Unconstitutionality and Sector Failure

Senior Partner at Olisa Agbakoba Legal, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, has raised a clarion call for the repeal of Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and a comprehensive overhaul of the country’s oil and gas sector. In a policy paper titled “The Paradox of Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Industry,” Agbakoba contends that the current system has “completely failed,” contributing to widespread poverty and hunger across the nation. He even warns of a potential “food riot.”

Agbakoba identifies several key issues with the existing framework

IOCs’ Dominance and Weak Regulation:The dominance of International Oil Companies (IOCs) in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector has marginalized Nigerian players. Agbakoba attributes this to a lack of clarity in the hydrocarbon process, which excludes local stakeholders.

Historical Mistake: Agbakoba criticizes the historical mistake of allowing the president to simultaneously serve as the minister of petroleum resources. This dual role has led to confusion and inefficiency.

NNPC’s Dual Role: The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) wears two hats as both regulator and operator, resulting in a conflict of interest.

Agbakoba proposes a model akin to Saudi Arabia’s, where the state controls the oil and gas sector, and a Minister of Energy oversees all aspects, including electricity and solid minerals. He advocates dismantling the current system and prioritizing Nigerian interests.

In Agbakoba’s vision, Nigeria could leverage its vast oil wealth (estimated at $600 trillion over the next 40 years) to fund public works, infrastructure, and employment-generating projects. By borrowing strategically, the country could address hunger and enhance productivity.

The debate over the PIA’s constitutionality and its impact on Nigeria’s future remains critical. Agbakoba’s call for reform underscores the urgency of addressing systemic flaws and ensuring a more equitable and sustainable oil and gas industry.

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