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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Buhari Proposes New Amendments to PIA, Nominates Regulatory Boards

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Exactly 37 days after the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) was enacted, President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the senate, requesting amendments to the law and expansion of membership of the board of the Upstream Regulatory Commission (URC).

Buhari, in a letter read yesterday on the floor of the senate, also sought an increase in the membership of the board of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA).

The president hinged his desire to alter the new law on the need to ensure national balance in appointments into the boards, in the letter dated September 16, 2021, and read yesterday during plenary by Senate President Ahmad Lawan.

Buhari further moved to fast-track the full operation of the newly signed Act, sending a list of nominees for the proposed URC, the regulator of the upstream of the Nigerian oil and gas industry as well NMDPRA, which would oversee the midstream and downstream sector.

Buhari explained that the appointment of two non-executive members to the board of the midstream, downstream and upstream commissions, as provided for by the Act, did not reflect balanced geopolitical representation.

The latest requests came about 48 hours after the president, in his capacity as Minister of Petroleum Resources, triggered Section 53(1) of the PIA, directing the incorporation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited and approving the formation of a new board, which would be headed by Senator Ifeanyi Ararume.

Buhari requested amendment to Sections 11(2)(b) and 34(2)(b), which provide for the administrative structure of the PIA 2021, to increase the number of the non-executive members from two to six on the upstream as well as midstream and downstream boards. He noted that doing so would foster national unity and 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.

In addition, the president proposed the deletion of sections 11(2)(f), 11(2)(g), 34(2)(f) and 34(2)(g) from the Act, which would see the removal of the ministries of petroleum resources and finance from both boards.

Buhari wrote in the letter to the upper chamber, “The proposed amendments will increase the membership of the board from nine to 13 members, that is, representing 44 per cent expansion of the board size. This composition would strengthen the institutions and guarantee national spread and also achieve the expected policy contributions.”

On the removal of the two ministries from the boards of the agencies, the president explained that they already had clear-cut roles and could carry out those responsibilities without necessarily being on the boards.

“The two ministries already have constitutional responsibilities of either supervision or inter-governmental relations,” he stressed. “They can continue to perform such roles without being on the board.” he added, maintaining, “It is also important to note that administratively, the representatives of the ministries in the board will be directors – being same rank with directors in the institutions. This may bring some complications in some decision making, especially on issues of staff related matters.”

Buhari also sought amendment to Sections 11(3) and 34(3) of the PIA, which would see them being replaced with a new section that provides that appointments to the board of the commission or authority under Section 2 shall be made by the president, while those made pursuant to Subsection (2)(a), (b) and (c) of the section shall be subject to confirmation by the senate.

Buhari further requested that Section 41(2) of the PIA be replaced with a new section to read, “There shall be five executive directors for the authority whose appointment shall comply with the rules of the federal civil service.”

In his proposed amendments, the president underscored the need to exempt serving public officers from the established confirmation process for political appointments, arguing that this will ensure effective management of the regulatory institutions through uniform implementation of public service rules for their employees.

“In future, these positions will obviously be filled by the workers in the authority through career progression in conformity with the rules and regulations of the federal civil service,” he stressed.

In the letters to the senate, the president said he was acting in accordance with the provisions of the different laws governing the establishments.

For the upstream, the president nominated Isa Ibrahim Modibbo as Chairman, while Mr. Gbenga Komolafe was selected as Chief Executive Officer. Hassan Gambo was chosen as Executive Commissioner, Finance and Accounts, while Ms. Rose Ndong was nominated Executive Commissioner, Exploration and Acreage Management.

The president retained Mr. Sarki Auwalu, who currently heads the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), as Chief Executive Officer of the proposed midstream and downstream authority. He listed Chairman of the authority as Idaere Gogo Ogan; Abiodun Adeniji as Executive Director, Finance and Accounts; and Ogbugo Ukoha as Executive Director, Distributions Systems, Storage and Retail Infrastructure.

Buhari also sent to the upper chamber for screening and possible approval a list of nominees for the board of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The nominees for the EFCC board are George Ekpungu, Secretary to the Commission (Cross River); Lukman Muhammed (Edo); Anumba Adaeze (Enugu); Alhaji Kola Adesina (Kwara); and Alhaji Yahaya Muhammad (Yobe).

Buhari urged the senate to consider and confirm the nominees in an expeditious manner, given the important role they will play in the current administration.

A profile of the CEO of the upstream commission, Komolafe, obtained by THISDAY showed that he had been deeply involved in strategic policy formulation and implementation in the oil and gas industry for about 27 years.

Komolafe is an expert in institutional process study and designs for curbing revenue leakages and attaining optimum national productivity. He has initiated and coordinated various policies that generated and saved the country billions of dollars in his various capacities and national assignments.

The 57-year-old engineer from Ondo State was Managing Director, Nigeria Pipeline and Storage Company (NPSC), where he initiated the reform and business model for maintenance and operations of NNPC pipelines and depot infrastructure efficiently on private Joint Venture (JV) basis. This saved Nigeria monies that had perennially been expended on national downstream petroleum assets maintenance, operations and security.

In addition, he was Group General Manager, Special Duties at the NNPC; Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division; and Executive Director (Commercial) Pipelines and Petroleum Marketing Company (PPMC). He was also General Manager, Operations, Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF); and General Manager, Operations, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), among several other positions.

Aside being an engineer, Komolafe has degrees in law, as well as industrial and labour relations, and a recipient of various awards.

Both chambers of the National Assembly had before embarking on their annual vacation in July passed the harmonised version of the long awaited legislation, before transmitting it to the president for assent.

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