The Problem Statement
Due to the ascendancy of oil as a major source of revenue to the government, the need arose to create an investment-friendly environment and attract local and foreign investment to the oil and gas export sector of the Nigerian economy.
This necessitated the enactment of the Oil and Gas Free Zone Act No. 8 of 1996 to regulate, superintend and manage the operations of Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Export Free Trade Zones.
The Policy Solution
The Act established the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) beginning with the designation of the Onne/Ikpokiri area of Rivers as an export free zone.
The Act also established the membership of the governing board and the functions of the Authority.
The Act further made provisions for the importing, exporting and movement of goods; licensing of business entities within the Free Zone; provision of incentives to Free Zone investors; and arbitration and settlement of disputes within the Free Zone.
NIGAC Constructive Position
It is worthy to note that the existence of the Authority set up by the Act has brought about increased investment, consequent development, entrenched industrialization and innovation, and a productive value chain across board.
However, there have been frequent inter-agency conflicts which has hindered the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority in the execution of its prime mandate.
This conflict arises from imprecision and dissonance of the Oil and Gas Free Zone Act.
The Act will require amendment to clarify these deficiencies to better position the Agency established by the Act.
This legal framework will have to be strengthened and corrections implemented to eliminate the obvious flaws and inter-agency overlaps.