LAW ‘We can’t move from public to private monopoly without competition law’
Professor Paul Obo Idornigie SAN is a scholar who rose through the ranks to become a Professor of Law in 1995. He is presently a lecturer at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. In this interview, he speaks on the Competition Law, PIB, Port c
Do you support passage of Competition Law? the the
Yes. Going down memory lane, I came to BPE in 2002 and the first work I did was in the drafting of the competition law for the country. When you are privatizing, you are moving from public monopoly to private monopoly. And because you are moving to private monopoly, there is need to regulate it, thus the need for competition law. There is no dominant player in any market, sector or industry. This means there is no dominant player that will abuse the market. BPE has been privatizing since 1988, and our position is you cannot be moving from public monopoly to private monopoly without competition law in place. For me, the law is long overdue. When BPE was working, then in 2004, it found that there was a similar bill in the National Assembly. By 2006, there was a competition bill but it has suffered the fate of most bills in the National Assembly that is because it comes as an executive bill, it came to National Assembly when they were rounding up.
Luckily, with this 8th National Assembly, the Senate president is very passionate about this bill so it is moving in the National Assembly.
There is also the PIB which could not be passed, what is the importance of this bill?
When Nasir el-Rufai was the DG of BPE he set up various committees, one of them was the Oil and Gas Implementation Committee (OGIC). The main aim of that committee was to draft a policy for the oil and gas sector. That committee worked in 2005 to produce a draft PIB which by 2006/2007 got to NNPC. It was while there that Yar’adua took over and he set up another OGIC under Dr Rilwanu Lukman. Lukman chaired the first and second OGIC that produced another PIB of 2008. That PIB of 2008 went to the National Assembly and went through first reading, second reading and third reading, then the host community issue - how do you cater for the host community came up. Is the NNPC enough? Is the Ministry of Niger Delta enough? It was because of these various interests as to how to cater for the host community; whether you will now provide in that bill a percentage you pay to the host community in addition to what you do with NNPC. This is one of the reasons that hindered the bill from scaling through the third reading.
Alison Diezani, as minister of Petroleum, started her own draft. She produced it in 2012. For me, that PIB of 2012 is the worst version of all the bills I’ve seen because when you are reforming, you create a power for regulation, that is why in the power sector you have NERC, in the stock exchange sector you have SEC, in the communication sector you have NCC. The issue has always been in the oil and gas sector, what kind of regulator do we want? Generally, there is the concept of independent regulator - independent financially, administratively and functionally, in other words, it should not be subject to the direction of the minister, but the 2012 version of PIB was subject to the powers of the minister.
Another thing is who are those that make up this regulatory body? In that 2012 bill, you found that NUPENG and PEGASSAN are members. Those to be regulated became members of the organ that it is regulating. So, that bill didn’t go far at all.
There is a version now in the National Assembly. What NNPC has done is to break it down instead of having one bill covering the sector. So there is one in the National Assembly now that covers institutions and governance, in other words, which new institutions do we need to create? The House of Representatives is sponsoring a National stakeholders’ workshop to look at this bill holistically.
The president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) is also interested in the PIB, he also set up a committee to advise him on the way forward on the PIB.
Professor Paul Obo Idornigie