A Critical analysis of public participation in parliamentary ratification of oil and gas agreements
Nyamai, Abel Mwongela
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The oil and gas sector in Kenya is seen as an opportunity to catalyse social economic development. Instead of contributing towards economic growth, oil and gas development leads to unparalleled corruption, underdevelopment and internal conflicts. This greatly compromises the relationship between the Government and the people and leads to loss of trust. However, the only way to realise the maximum benefits of the oil and gas industry is by upholding principles such as public participation, accountability and transparency. The result of bad governance in the oil and gas industry is it spurs corruption and internal conflicts. This is what is referred to by many authors as the ‘Resource Curse’. The importance of principles such as public participation and transparency cannot be over emphasised, this as is shown by this paper is one of the ingredients that leads to sustainable development of oil and gas resources. Parliament as an arm of government has a critical role to play in the oversight of the oil and gas industry. One of the ways which Parliament does this is through the ratification of oil and gas agreements. The ratification process provides an opportunity for Parliamentarians and members of the public to scrutinize and question the agreement between the Executive and the oil and gas company. Parliament is meant to act as a voice of reason, represent the people and influence policy of the Executive. However, the experience of other jurisdictions shows that parliamentary approval of oil and gas contracts does not automatically lead to public participation in the ratification process. The problem this paper is investigating is if the current parliamentary ratification process under Article 71 of the constitution allows individuals or groups to participate effectively. This is done by a critical examination of Article 71 of the constitution to investigate the current avenues of participation in the legislative process. The paper has adopted a qualitative trajectory including literature review and benchmarking with South Africa. Secondary sources such as books and authoritative scholarly articles will heavily be used in the research. The findings of this research show that the current process of parliamentary ratification of oil and gas contracts is not able to dispense public participation. It also shows that Parliament is required to analyze an agreement that they know very little about. This not only leads to poor decision making but also creates an avenue for corruption and collusion by the government and International Oil Companies( IOC).