President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the Senate seeking to amend sections of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), 2021.
Buhari’s request was contained in separate letters addressed to Senate President Ahmad Lawan and House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, and read at the commencement of plenary on Tuesday.
In the letter, President Buhari wants an amendment to the new Act to allow for the removal of the Ministers of Petroleum and Finance from the board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, saying that they can continue to perform their functions without necessarily being members of the board.
Buhari, in the letter, said the amendments became imperative after a review of the administrative structure of both the Upstream Regulatory Commission and Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.
The president specifically sought for the expansion of the non-executive board members of each of the two regulatory institutions from two to six; removal of the ministries of petroleum and finance from the board of the two institutions and exempting Executive Directors of Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, who are civil servants, from Senate confirmation process.
Buhari, in his letter titled: “Forwarding administrative structure amendments to the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, said: “I wish to forward to the Senate the attached Administrative Structure Amendments of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021 for your kind consideration and approval please.
“Having carefully reviewed the administrative structure of both the Commission and the Authority; I would like to propose the following amendments to the PIA 2021:
“Appointment of non-executive board members: The Petroleum Industry Act 2021 provided for the appointment of two non-executive members for the board of the two regulatory institutions.
“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 the oil industry.
“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.
“Removal of the Ministries of Petroleum and Finance from the board of the two institutions:
The proposed amendment will increase the membership of the board from nine (9) to thirteen (13) members that is representing 44% expansion of the board site.
“This composition would strengthen the institutions and guarantee national spread and also achieve the expected policy contributions.
“The two ministries already have constitutional responsibilities of either supervision or inter-governmental relations. 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.
“Appointment of Executive Directors: The Act has made provision for seven Departmental Heads in the Authority to be known as Executive Directors.
“Their appointment will also be subject to Senate confirmation. This category of Officers are civil servants and not political appointees.
“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.”