• Saturday, May 25, 2024
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PIB: Northern senators want petroleum minister’s powers whittled down

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While the Senate is preparing to conduct a public hearing on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), there were indications that senators from the North are moving to whittle down the powers of the minister of petroleum resources in the Bill.

The three joint committees of petroleum (upstream and downstream) and the judiciary saddled with the consideration of the Bill after it passed second reading on the floor are currently in the United States of America for an energy summit for input into the Bill.

Sources disclosed that the senators from the North are against the sweeping powers of the minister in the Bill, fearing that the interest of the entire region may be jeopardised.

The senators from the North had during the debate for second reading opposed the clause for 10 percent for oil producing communities in the Bill after complaining that the 13 percent derivation fund was sufficient for oil producing states.

Section 6 in part said, “The minister shall (i) be responsible for the formulation, determination and monitoring of government policy for the petroleum industry in Nigeria.

“Exercise general supervisory role functions over the affairs and operations of the petroleum industry; report development in the petroleum industry to the Federal Executive Council (FEC)”.

The senators were said to be particularly against sub-section (i) of section 6 which gave sweeping powers on appointment of key positions in the oil sector to the minister and fear the sub-section may affect the region.

The sub-section states that the minister shall “advise the president on the appointment of the chief executives of the Upstream Petroleum Inspectorate, Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Agency, the National Oil Company, the Asset Management Corporation and any other government agencies or corporate entities established or to be established to this Act”.

The Senate is expected to begin public hearing on the Bill this month while the joint committees had been given four weeks to report back.