Two months after signing the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), President Muhammadu Buhari has sought lawmakers’ approval to amend some sections of the Act, which relate to the administrative structure of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, and the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission.
In separate letters to the National Assembly, the President also requested the confirmation of nominees for the constituted boards of the Commission and the Authority.
The letters were read out by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, during plenary on yesterday (Tuesday).
Specifically, Buhari proposed amendments to three sections of the PIA relating to Sections 11(2)(b), and 34(2)(b) which provide for the appointment of two non-executive members for the board of the two regulatory institutions and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), be increased to six to admit representation from all geopolitical zones.
The third amendment concerns the appointment of executive directors for the Regulatory Authority.
The letter reads in part: “I am of the view that this membership limitation does not address the principle of balanced geo-political representation of the country. I therefore pray for the intervention of the ninth assembly to correct this oversight in the interest of national unity.
“Needless to add that this amendment will provide the sense of participation and inclusion for almost every section of the country in the decision making of strategic institutions such as the oil industry.
“If this amendment is approved, it will now increase the number of non-executive members from two to six. That is, one person from each geo-political zone.”
For Sections 11(2)(f-g) and 34(2)(f-g), sought the removal of the ministers of Petroleum and Finance from the boards of the two institutions.
Indeed, in the constitution of members of the Board of the proposed NNPC Limited, the President had left out the inclusion of representatives from the ministries of Petroleum and Finance as provided in the PIA.
According to him, the proposed amendment will increase the membership of the boards from nine to 13, the equivalent of 44% expansion of the board size.
He said: “This composition will strengthen the institutions and also achieve the expected policy contributions.
“The two ministries already have constitutional responsibilities of either supervision or intergovernmental relations that will 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 in the same rank in the institutions. This may bring some complications on some decision making especially on issues of staff related matters.”
For the third amendment in Section 11(3) on the appointment of executive directors, the PIA provides for seven departmental heads in the Authority to be known as executive directors, subject to the Senate confirmation, seeing as these categories of officers are civil servants and not political appointees.
I am of the view that this membership limitation does not address the principle of balanced geo-political representation of the country. I therefore pray for the intervention of the ninth assembly to correct this oversight in the interest of national unity.
Buhari said in his letter: “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 workers in the Authority through career progression in conformity with the rules and regulations of the Federal Civil Service,” he said.
He argued that the proposed amendments are aimed at laying sound administrative structures governed by simple operational laws that will ensure smooth take-off and consequent growth of the two institutions, in line with current reforms of the petroleum industry.
In line with Section 34(3) of the PIA, the President announced the appointment of the chairman and members of the Board of the Regulatory Authority to include; Idaere Ogan – Chairman, Sarki Auwalu – Chief Executive, Abiodun Adeniyi – Executive Director, Finance and Accounts, and Ogbugo Ukoha – Executive Director, Distribution Systems, Storage and Retail Infrastructure.
For the Regulatory Commission as provided in Section 11(3) are; Isa Ibrahim Modibbo – Chairman, Gbenga Komolafe – Chief Executive, Hassan Gambo – Executive Commissioner, Finance and Accounts, and Rose Ndong – Executive Commissioner, Exploration and Acreage Management.