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BREAKING: Buhari writes Senate, seeks amendment of Petroleum Industry Act

President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, wrote to the Senate seeking an amendment to the recently enacted Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).

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The joint National Assembly committees that worked on the PIB had proposed a five per cent equity share for the development of the host communities but the Senate led the campaign for its reduction to three per cent while the House of Representatives approved the panel’s recommendation.

The conference committee set up by the presiding officers of both chambers in their recommendation, fixed the equity share at three per cent and was invariably approved by the National Assembly.

The development generated into controversy with senators from the South-South geopolitical zone kicking against it and asked Buhari to resolve the impasse by seeking amendment to increase the equity share to five per cent.

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However, the new amendments proposed by the President did not address the concerns of the South-South stakeholders.

Rather, Buhari’s fresh request centred basically on the need to review the administrative structure of the Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.

Buhari is seeking the senators’ approval to increase the numbers of the non-executive board members of each of the regulatory agencies from two to six, in order to capture the six geopolitical zones.

He said, “The Petroleum Industry Act 2021 provided for the appointment of two non executive members for the board of the two regulatory institutions.

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“I am of the view that this membership limitation has not addressed the principle of balanced geopolitical representation of the Country.

“Therefore, I pray for the intervention of the 9th Assembly to correct this oversight in the interest of our national unity.

“Needless to add that this amendment will provide a sense of participation and inclusion to almost every section of the Country in the decision making of strategic institutions such as oil industry.

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“if this amendment is approved, it will now increase the number of the non executive members from two to six that is one person from each of the six geopolitical zones of the Country”

The President also removed the Ministers of Finance and Petroleum Resources from the board of the two agencies.

He said the two ministers already have constitutional responsibilities of either supervision or inter-governmental relations.

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He said, “They can continue to perform such roles without being in the board.

“It is also important to note that administratively, the representatives of the ministries in the board will be directors – being the same rank with the directors in the institution

“This may bring some complications in some decision making especially on issues of staff related matters.”

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Buhari added that the appointments of the executive directors who would be in charge of the seven departments in the NMDPRA should not be subjected to Senate confirmation since they are civil servants who were promoted in the course of their career.

He said, “The Act has made provision for seven departmental heads in the Authority to be known as executive directors.

“Their appointment (according to the PIA) will also be subjected to Senate confirmation. This category of officers are civil servants and not political appointees.

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“The Senate is invited to note the need to exempt serving public officers from the established confirmation process for political appointments.

“This will ensure effective management of the regulatory institutions through uniform implementation of public service rules for employees of the Authority.

“In the future, these positions will obviously be filled by the workers in the Authority

Buhari said the proposed amendment would also increase the membership of the board from nine to 13 members that is representing 44 per cent expansion of the board site.

He said, “This composition would strengthen the institutions and guarantee national spread and also achieve the expected policy contributions

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Written by Adesoji OMOSEBI

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