Two months after it was communicated, the national assembly is yet to consider the request by the President, Muhammadu Buhari to amend the Petroleum Industry Act after receiving the executive bill.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, read the cover letter attached to the executive bill in their respective chambers on September 21, 2022.
The Senate and the House are to pass the bills concurrently.
Buhari had sought amendments to the PIA, including removal of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning from the boards of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.
The amendments also include appointment of executive and non-executive members of the boards.
The National Assembly passed the Petroleum Industry Bill while the president signed it into law shortly after.
Buhari, a few weeks later, approached the parliament for amendments to the Act.
Efforts to get the House to explain the delay proved abortive.
Both the Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; and Chairman of the Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, did not pick several calls made to them. They had yet to reply to a message sent to them clarify issues surrounding the delay.
The President’s cover letter on the bill had read in part, “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 (is) 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.”
Buhari also removed the Ministers of Finance, Budget and National Planning and Petroleum Resources from the board of the two agencies.
He said the two ministers already had constitutional responsibilities of either supervision or inter-governmental relations.
He said, “They can continue to perform such roles without being on 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.”
Meanwhile, the National Assembly, especially the House, has suspended the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution over the consideration and passage of the 2022 Appropriation Bill.
While the parliament has proposed to pass the budget on December 15, sources close to the House Committee on the Review of the Constitution, which is chaired by the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, informed our correspondent that the exercise would not resume until mid-January when the lawmakers return from Christmas and New Year break.
The National Assembly is billed to embark on holiday immediately after passage of the budget.
An official close to the committee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “We suspended the exercise to focus on the budget. The secretariat is still open and more bills and memoranda are coming in, but the proper work may not resume until January, 2022.