Senate scraps NNPC, passes PIB

 Establishes 3 new agencies

 APC, NUPENG, PENGASSAN hail passage

By Taiye Odewale, Moses John and Bode Olagoke, Abuja

After nine years of failed attempts, the Senate yesterday passed into law the controversial Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) 2017, with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation being a major victim as it was split into two new commercial entities.
And in self-appreciation, the leadership and members of the 8th Senate congratulated themselves for achieving what couldn’t be achieved by their predecessors.
As provided for in the bill, the existing NNPC would be unbundled into two commercial entities limited by shares. They are; National Petroleum Company (NPC), the National Assets Management Company (NAMC) under the supervision of a one- stop- shop regulatory agency to be known as the Petroleum Regulatory Commission (PRC).

PRC, as clearly spelt out in the bill, will absorb the present Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) into one agency.
The PRC, according to the Act, “shall be the Industry Regulator and Watchdog, responsible for licensing, monitoring, supervision of petroleum operations, enforcing laws, regulations and standards across the value chain.”
The reasons for these, as stated in part one of the bill under the objectives are, “to ensure efficient and effective commercial performance in the petroleum sector.

“Create efficient and effective governing institutions with clear and separate roles for the petroleum industry, establish a framework for the creation of commercially oriented and profit driven petroleum entities that ensure value addition and internationalisation of the petroleum industry, promote transparency and accountability in the administration of petroleum resources of Nigeria; and foster a conducive business environment for petroleum industry operations.”
Other striking features of the bill are its provision in section 26(3) where it gives the regulatory commission 10% cost of collection of revenues from other commercial agencies.
“The Commission shall establish and maintain a fund (‘the Fund’) from which all expenditures incurred by the Commission shall be defrayed. The NPRC is also empowered by the bill to spend ten percent of what it generates for its operations”, the section states.

However, the 10% host fund that led to the failure of the bill’s passage during the last Senate was not part of the provisions of the new bill.
Commenting on the issue, Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Senator Omotayo Alasoadura, disclosed that both the Host Community Fund and fiscal aspect of the bill, shall later be treated by the National Assembly in two separate segments by the current National Assembly.
In his remarks, Senate President Bukola Saraki, said it was a clear manifestation of what the 8th Senate stands for as far as opening up of the petroleum sector was concerned, and by extension, the economy of the country on the tripod of transparency, efficiency and profitability for both the government and players in the field.

Meanwhile, the governing All Progressives Congress has commended the Senate on the passage of the PIB which, according to it, “seeks to introduce reforms that would ensure greater transparency and accountability in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.”
In a statement yesterday in Abuja, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, noted that the bill had languished in the various chambers of the National Assembly for about 12 years, adding that it took the purposeful and dedicated APC-led Senate to pass the bill.
“We are very excited that the bill was passed today after about 12 years delay. We specially commend the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, for his focused leadership of the 8th Senate, which has produced several legislative actions that have positively affected the lives of Nigerians, promoted good governance and advance on-going efforts by the APC-led administration to rebuild the country.

“The passage of the bill is an indication that our federal legislators are diligent and reform-minded, and are committed to fulfilling the promises our party made to Nigerians.
“We call on the House of Representatives under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara to follow the example of the Senate by also promptly passing the PIB.”
The party, also called on Nigerians to continue supporting and cooperating with the President Muhammadu Buhari APC-led administration and the National Assembly, as they continue to make laws and execute projects to improve the wellbeing of Nigerians.

Also, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGSSAN), and the Nigeria Union of Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), have commended the Senate for passing the PIB into an Act.
Chairman, NUPENG and PENGASSAN Petroleum Industry Bill Committee, Comrade Hyginus Chika Onuegbu, while reacting to the development, recalled that government had lost over 235 billion dollars as a result of the non passage of the bill.

Onuegbu, however, said the movement awaits other aspects of the bill which includes the Petroleum Fiscal Framework Bill; the Petroleum Industry Downstream Administration Bill; the Petroleum Industry Revenue Management Framework Bill and the Petroleum Host Community Bill.
“We commend the 8th Senate led by Senate President Senator Bukola Saraki and its Joint Committee on the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), led by Senator Tayo Alasoadura for the passage of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) 2016.

“This is indeed a milestone achievement, especially when you consider that the PIGB is not an Executive Bill. Also, when you consider that Nigeria has lost over N235billion dollars due to its inability to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill into law since the reform in the Nigerian Petroleum industry was kick-started 17 years ago.
“We, therefore, look forward to the concurrent passage of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) into law by the Federal House of Representatives and also eventual accent by the President of Nigeria.
The oil workers also warned that passage of the PIGB won’t deliver the full benefits of the intended reforms except other aspects of the PIB are also legislated.

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