Members of the House of Representatives, the Green Chamber of Nigeria’s bicameral Legislature, are currently growing goose pimples over a startling $27 billion oil revenue rip-off in the country.
They have accordingly resolved to probe the country’s alleged loss of the huge oil revenue to international oil companies since 1999.
A goose pimple is however, a state of the skin caused by cold, fear, or excitement, in which small bumps appear on the surface as the hairs become erect; goose bumps.
The resolution of the Green Chamber was passed at the plenary midweek, after a debate on a bill presented by President Muhammadu Buhari seeking to increase Federal Government’s share of the revenue accruing from oil.
The Bill for an Act to Amend the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act, CAP D3 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, to Review the Share of the Government of the Federation in the Additional Revenue Under the Production Sharing Contracts was passed for second reading.
According to the existing Act authorising the sharing formula, the international oil corporations are to drill crude and sell with the proceeds shared between them and the Federal Government on a 60/40 basis at $20 per barrel of crude.
For the House of Reps, this means the big oil corporations have been keeping whatever excess revenue they generated from the increase in the price of crude and share based on $20 agreement irrespective of the current prevailing market price.
Leading the debate on the bill, the Deputy Majority Leader, Idris Wase, urged his colleagues to support the bill.
But, Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, from Abia State cited Order 12 Sub-Rule 3, pointing out that he and some other lawmakers did not have the hard copies of the bill to allow to them debate it adequately.
Another legislator, Nicholas Ossai, from Delta State supported Nkem-Abonta, calling for the suspension of the second reading pending the availability of the copies of the bill to members.
Deputy Speaker of the House, Lasun Yussuff, however urged the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, who presided over the session, to allow the debate to go on while appealing that more legislative days be set aside for the debate to enable members to exhaust their thoughts on the subject matter.
Lasun said as an engineer, who started his career in the oil sector, he knew well that the Federal Government had little control over deep offshore oil exploration, adding, ‘’the way things stand, we may end up being pushed out of the sharing formula in the future because the IOCs own the expertise and the funds, and they can even decide to apply international laws to claim the locations of the deep offshore wells.
‘’Like the Deputy Leader said, in order to encourage investment in the section of the industry, the government allowed the existing sharing formula because investment in that area is heavy.’’