By Osahon Osahon
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday transmitted a letter to the Senate, seeking to amend certain provisions of the controversial Petroleum Industry Act.
The President, in his letter, sought to review the administrative structure of the Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.
He asked the Senators to increase the numbers of the non-executive board members of each of the regulatory agencies from two to six, in order to capture the six geopolitical zones.
He said, “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 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”
The President also removed the Ministers of Finance and Petroleum Resources from the board of the two agencies.
According to him, 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, Buhari noted the need to exempt serving public officers from the established confirmation process for political appointments.
He said, “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.”
Buhari added that the appointments of the executive directors who would be in charge of the seven departments in the NMDPRA should not be subjected to Senate confirmation since they are civil servants who were promoted in the course of their career.
He said, “The Act has made provision for seven departmental heads in the Authority to be known as executive directors.
“Their appointment (according to the PIA) will also be subjected 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
Buhari said the proposed amendment would also increase the membership of the board from nine to 13 members that is representing 44 per cent expansion of the board site.
He said, “This composition would strengthen the institutions and guarantee national spread and also achieve the expected policy contributions.