An investigation by The Cable indicates that the new draft of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) denies the president of the discretionary powers to allocate oil blocks.
The controversial bill which have been the subject of public discourse since the administration of late former president, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua, confers the power to allocate oil blocks to the Nigeria Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NPRC).
The NPRC is saddled with the responsibility of conducting bid rounds for petroleum exploration licenses, but its recommendation can be subject to the minister, who has the power to grant licenses.
The bill states that the NPRC shall “conduct bid rounds or other processes for the award of petroleum exploration and production licences and leases, approve all field development programmes and allocate petroleum quotas”.
The final draft of the new bill named: “Petroleum industry governance and institutional framework bill 2015”, was concluded on December 2, 2015.
The bill limits the power of the president to appoint members of the board of the regulatory commission.
Promoters of the bill argued then that the bill aims to promote transparency and accountability in the administration of the petroleum resources of Nigeria, while creating a conducive business environment for petroleum industry operations.
The new draft, also stated that the Nigerian Senate will be responsible for the ratification of governing board members appointed by the president.
The bill reads: “The appointment to the board in respect of persons appointed pursuant to paragraphs (a) to (d) of this section shall be made by the President subject to confirmation of the senate.
“The chairman and non-executive commissioner shall be persons of high integrity and substantial professional experience; in appointing the chairman and the non-executive commissioner, the president shall have due regard to a fair representation of the technical, legal and commercial interest.”
However, the bill might not be an issue for President Muhammadu Buhari if he adopts it, as he doubles as the minister of petroleum which means he can perform the duties of the president and the minister as far as the petroleum industry is concerned.
The bill which grants the minister the power to control the oil blocks under the recommendation of the commission reads thus: “Upon the recommendation of the commission, grant, amend, renew, extend or revoke petroleum exploration and production licenses and leases pursuant to the provisions of this act or any other enactment.”
The bill also states that the minister also has the rights of pre-emption – that is, the right to purchase of goods by one person or party before the opportunity is offered to others – to all petroleum products in times of national emergency or war.
“In the event of a state of national emergency or war, the Minister shall have the right of pre-emption of all petroleum and petroleum products obtained, marketed or otherwise dealt with under any license or lease granted under this act or any other enactment,” the bill posits.
Just yesterday, December 8, a report by Reuters suggested that the federal government is breaking up the PIB into different versions with a law to overhaul the petroleum sector which aims at closing loopholes that bred corruption.
Recall that on November 23, Bukola Saraki, the Senate president said the legislature has adopted the PIB as one of their legislative agenda. He said the 8th Senate was already working closely with the executive towards getting the bill passed quickly.
The PIB was first introduced in 2008 following the submission of the report of the Rilwanu Lukman-led Oil and Gas Sector Reform Committee. The late Engineer Rilwan Lukman was the petroleum minister under the late Yar’adua.
The bill is intended to combine 16 different petroleum laws into a single document and provide a legal, fiscal and regulatory framework for the Nigerian petroleum industry, in such a way that increases the revenue from the sector to the country. Source