Hon Dakuku Peterside
The House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) has asked the Federal Government to divest its interests in the nation’s four refineries and bring on board competent and resourceful investors with the requisite expertise to mange them profitably. It also demanded a comprehensive roadmap for the full deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Hon Dakuku Peterside (PDP/Rivers) who expressed these views at the weekend said that government should retain only 49 per cent and divest the rest of the shares to the private sector.
Dakuku said that for the reforms in the oil sector to be complete, government needed to provide a transition schedule defining the sequence and timing of deregulation of the downstream sector.
He said that such a road map should be produced and annexed to the Petroleum Industry Bill currently pending before the two chambers of the National Assembly.
According to the lawmaker, the deregulation of the downstream sector was critical to ensuring the availability of petroleum products all year round as well as the sustainability of the petroleum industry in Nigeria . Dakuku also said that the transparency provisions in the draft PIB relating to the downstream sector should be strengthened particularly in the areas of award of licenses; voiding contract confidentiality and publication of licensing information.
He recalled that at a recent public forum organised by the Committee on the Petroleum Industry Bill, stakeholders had requested the government to ensure the protection of products and pipelines, through the review of the provisions in the Special Tribunal (Miscellaneous Offences) Act Cap 410 LFN 1990 and including same in the PIB. The stakeholders, Dakuku said, also demanded the amendment of Section 360 of the bill to maintain statutory authority of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to oversee the sale of assets currently belonging to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) or include provisions to specify how sales will be undertaken.
The lawmaker said that in considering the PIB, there was need to conduct a regulatory gap analysis to streamline all existing laws and ensure that the PIB takes cognisance of current trends and best practices around the world.
Dakuku echoed the common position of stakeholders that the powers granted to the Minister of Petroleum Resources in the draft bill needed to be reviewed while efforts should be made to inculcate attitudinal changes in the operations of NNPC’s successor organisations to derive the full benefits of the structural changes proposed in the Petroleum Industry Bill.