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Practical efficacy of Executive Orders in the Nigerian petroleum industry

Practical efficacy of Executive Orders in the Nigerian petroleum industry

The petroleum industry stands as the backbone of the Nigerian economy, drawing substantial offshore and domestic investments. However, a significant challenge lies in the regulatory bureaucracy, which often hampers smooth operations and investment flows.

The overlapping responsibilities among various regulatory agencies further complicate matters, creating an intricate web of administrative hurdles. In light of these challenges, the Nigerian government’s efforts to streamline these processes through executive orders are commendable, but the practical efficacy of these orders warrants deeper examination.

Regulatory constraints and legal boundaries

A fundamental aspect of implementing executive orders lies in their legal standing. Executive orders are directives from the President that aim to manage operations within the federal government. However, their scope is inherently limited when they attempt to override or alter statutory regulations. In Nigeria, many regulatory processes within the petroleum industry are backed by laws enacted by the National Assembly.

Read also: Group alleges Petroleum Industry Act is anti-people, criminalizes Niger-Delta

Consequently, an executive order cannot supersede these statutory provisions. This limitation was starkly highlighted in 2019 when an executive order aimed at promoting business efficiency was tested in the Federal High Court. The court’s decision underscored that without legislative backing, the practical impact of such orders remains constrained.

Collaboration: A crucial ingredient for success

For executive orders to achieve their intended purpose, especially in the context of the petroleum industry, there must be a candid collaboration between the government and regulatory bodies. These agencies are the custodians of the administrative processes that executive orders seek to streamline.

Their involvement ensures that the orders are not only feasible but also practically enforceable. Moreover, engaging regulators in the drafting and implementation phases can preempt potential conflicts with existing statutory mandates, thereby enhancing the orders’ effectiveness.

Reducing regulatory overlaps

One significant advantage of collaborative efforts is their potential to reduce regulatory overlap. The Nigerian petroleum industry is overseen by multiple agencies, each with its own set of regulations and mandates. This fragmentation often leads to redundant processes, delays, and increased costs for investors.

By fostering inter-agency collaboration, the government can identify and eliminate these overlaps, creating a more streamlined and efficient regulatory environment. This, in turn, would encourage more investments, as businesses would face fewer bureaucratic hurdles.

Flexible governance frameworks

The petroleum industry is dynamic, with rapid technological advancements and evolving market conditions. To keep pace with these changes, governance frameworks need to be flexible and adaptive. Collaborative efforts between the government and regulators can facilitate the development of such frameworks.

By incorporating feedback from industry stakeholders, these frameworks can be tailored to address current challenges while remaining adaptable to future developments. This proactive approach would not only enhance regulatory efficiency but also ensure that the industry remains competitive on a global scale.

Stakeholder engagement

Effective implementation of executive orders also requires robust stakeholder engagement. This includes not only the regulatory agencies but also investors, industry experts, and other relevant parties. Regular consultations and open communication channels can help identify practical challenges and areas for improvement.

Read also: Reintroduce subsidy to price of petroleum, farm implements, citizens urge FG

Moreover, involving stakeholders in the decision-making process can build trust and foster a more collaborative regulatory environment. This participatory approach ensures that the policies and reforms introduced through executive orders are well-informed and broadly supported.

The Nigerian government’s use of executive orders to streamline regulatory processes in the petroleum industry is a step in the right direction. However, the practical efficacy of these orders hinges on their alignment with statutory regulations and the active collaboration of regulatory agencies.

By reducing regulatory overlaps, developing flexible governance frameworks, and engaging stakeholders, the government can create a more efficient and investor-friendly environment. Ultimately, these efforts will not only enhance the attractiveness of the Nigerian petroleum industry but also contribute to the broader economic development of the country.

 

Iroegbunam is the General Manager, Legal and Company Secretary at Lekoil Nigeria Limited, an African-focused indigenous oil and gas exploration and gas production company.