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BREAKING: Buhari proposes amendments to recently passed Petroleum Industry Act 2021

President Muhammadu Buhari has written the National Assembly on proposed Administrative Structure Amendments to the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, in what may signal that the controversial piece of legislation failed its first implementation test.

Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Femi Adesina announced this in a statement he issued and circulated to media houses in Nigeria today, September 21, 2021.

According to Mr Adesina, the President stated in the letter to President of the Senate, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, that “having carefully reviewed the administrative structure of both the Commission and the Authority, I would like to propose the following amendments:

A. Appointment of Non-Executive Board Members

B. Removal of the Ministries of Petroleum and Finance from the Board of the two institutions

C. Appointment of Executive Directors.

Under A, President Buhari observed that PIA 2021 provided for the appointment of two non-executive members for the board of the two regulatory institutions, but he is of the view that the membership limitation has not addressed the principle of balanced geopolitical representation of the country.

“I, therefore, pray for the intervention of the 9th Assembly to correct this oversight in the interest of our national unity,” he added, noting that if the amendment is approved, it will increase the number of the non-executive members from two to six: one person from each of the geopolitical zones of the country.

Under B, President Buhari opined that the proposed amendment will increase the membership of the Board from 9 to 13, and strengthen the institutions and guarantee national spread, and also achieve the expected policy contributions.

He observed that the Ministries of Petroleum and Finance already have supervision or inter-governmental relations, and can continue to perform such roles without being in the Board.

On C, which is appointment of Executive Directors, President Buhari noted the need to exempt serving public officers from the established confirmation process for political appointments, adding that it will ensure effective management of the regulatory institutions through uniform implementation of public service rules for employees of the Authority.

He stressed that the proposed amendments to the PIA 2021 is strictly about the structure, aimed at ensuring smooth take-off and consequent growth of the two institutions.

In a swift reaction, renowned environmentalist and Director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Nnimmo Bassey responded in the following way:

“Interesting to note that the claim is that these amendments are proposed after “careful” review of the administrative structures. The question is whether the PIB was signed into law without any careful consideration of the package in the first place? The challenge is for the NASS to get back to the drawing board and review the contentious areas that are still being ignored.”