Nigeria: New PIB - National Assembly Leadership, Petroleum Minister, Others to Hold Crucial Meeting

28 September 2020

The leadership of the National Assembly will, in a few hours, meet with the minister of state for petroleum, Timipre Sylva, and other relevant officials, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.

The officials are expected to discuss the proposed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which is set to be officially transmitted to the National Assembly for consideration and passage.

Also expected at the meeting is the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari, and heads of other petroleum agencies, a source briefed about the meeting told PREMIUM TIMES asking not to be named as he was not authorised to brief journalist.

The meeting is said to be part of the routine for submission of important bills like the PIB. Both parties are to check for observations and reservations and ensure that differences are resolved in order to facilitate easy passage of the bill when officially submitted, this newspaper learnt.

Although the bill has not been formally submitted to the Parliament, Punch newspaper obtained a copy.

According to the newspaper, President Muhammadu Buhari, in the revised legislation, proposed the scrapping of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).

He also proposed the creation of Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited - after all the assets and liabilities of the NNPC must have been identified by the ministers of petroleum resources and finance, according to the report by Punch Newspaper.

The legislation also seeks to establish the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.

"The Minister (of Petroleum) and the Minister of Finance shall determine the assets, interests and liabilities of NNPC to be transferred to NNPC Limited or its subsidiaries and upon the identification, the minister shall cause such assets, interests and liabilities to be transferred to NNPC Limited," the newspaper quoted parts of the bill.

"Assets, interests and liabilities of NNPC not transferred to NNPC Limited or its subsidiary under subsection 1 of this section shall remain the assets, interests and liabilities of NNPC until they become extinguished or transferred to the government.

"NNPC shall cease to exist after its remaining assets, interests and liabilities other than its interests, assets, and liabilities transferred to NNPC Limited or its subsidiaries under subsection 1 of this section shall have been extinguished or transferred to the government," part of the bill reads.

The proposed law also states that "The minister shall be at the incorporation of NNPC Limited, consult with the Minister of Finance to determine the number and nominal value of the shares to be allotted which shall form the initial paid-up share capital of the NNPC Limited and the government shall subscribe and pay cash for the shares.

"Ownership of all shares in NNPC Limited shall be vested in the government at incorporation and held by the Ministry of Finance incorporated on behalf of the government."

The PIB is essential to modernise the regulation of the oil industry in Nigeria, according to experts. It has suffered setbacks from past assemblies for several reasons. Although a component of it was passed by the eight assembly in 2018 as the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, Mr Buhari rejected the bill on grounds of lack of fiscal content in it.

He also said the legislation would limit the powers of the petroleum minister.

When contacted on whether the new bill had been officially communicated to Senate President Ahmad Lawan, his spokesperson, Ola Awoniyi, simply said an official statement would be released on the matter later today.

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