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Senate passes Petroleum Industry Bill

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SENATE-PRESIDENT
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan
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The Senate recorded a historic feat on Thursday with the passage of the complete version of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which defied passage in previous assemblies over the last twenty years.

The bill was passed after a clause-by-clause consideration of a report by the Joint Committee on Downstream Petroleum Sector; Petroleum Resources (Upstream); and Gas on the PIB.

The Chairman of the Joint Committee, Sabo Muhammed Nakudu, delivered a presentation on the Committee’s report moments before the upper chamber held a closed session to receive briefing by the Petroleum Minister, Timipre Sylva, and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari.

The closed session which started at 11:10am ended at 12:40pm.

In his presentation, the lawmaker said that the Petroleum Industry Bill consists of five distinct chapters which include Governance and Institutions; Administration; Host Communities Development; Petroleum Industry Fiscal Framework; and Miscellaneous Provisions comprising 319 clauses and 8 schedules.

According to him, the bill’s passage and eventual assent into law would strengthen accountability and transparency of NNPC limited as a full-fledged company under statutory/regulatory oversight with better returns to its shareholders – the Nigerian people.

He added that the Joint Committee’s recommendation on Frontier Basins recognized the need for Nigeria to explore and develop the country’s frontier basins to take advantage of the foreseeable threats to the funding of fossil fuel projects across the world due to speedy shift to alternative energy sources.

During a clause-by-clause consideration of the bill, the upper chamber approved the funding mechanism of thirty percent of NNPC limited’s oil and gas profit in the production sharing, profit sharing, and risk service contracts to fund exploration of frontier basins.

It also approved Clause 4 of the bill which seeks the establishment of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission to provide technical regulatory functions that would enforce, administer and implement laws, regulations and policies relating to upstream petroleum operations.

The Commission would, among others, ensure compliance with applicable national and international petroleum industry policies, standards and practices for upstream petroleum operations; and establish, monitor, regulate and enforce health, safety and environmental measures and standards relating to upstream petroleum operations.

In addition, the upper chamber while adopting the Committee’s recommendation to retain provisions in Clause 29 of the bill, approved the establishment of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.

Clause 29(3) empowers the Authority to be responsible for the technical and commercial regulation of midstream and downstream petroleum operations in the petroleum industry in Nigeria.

Its function include implementing Government policies for midstream and downstream petroleum operations as directed by the Minister; and to promote, establish and develop a positive environment for international and domestic investment in midstream and downstream petroleum operations.

Others are to ensure strict environmental

implementation of policies, laws and regulations for midstream and downstream petroleum operations; and to develop and enforce a framework on tariff and pricing for natural gas and petroleum products.

The recommendation of the Joint Committee was amended in Clause 52(7d) to ensure that all monies received from gas flaring be channeled for the purpose of environmental remediation and relief of the host communities as against the development of infrastructure in midstream gas operations.

The upper chamber, however, retained the recommendation of the Joint Committee in Clause 53 which empowers the Minister of Petroleum Resources to incorporate the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation as a limited liability company to be known as NNPC Limited, six months after the commencement of the Act.

Accordingly, the adopted Clause 53 mandates the Minister of Petroleum Resources at the incorporation of NNPC Limited, to consult with the Minister of Finance to determine the number and nominal value of the shares to be allotted, which would form the initial paid-up share capital of NNPC Limited.

Consequently, the Senate approved ownership of all shares in NNPC Limited to be vested in the Government at incorporation and held by the Ministry of Finance Incorporated on behalf of the Government.

The upper chamber, however, reviewed downward the Joint Committee’s recommendation that 5 percent be paid as contribution to the host community development fund.

Senators in the majority voted for 3 percent contribution to the host communities, following an amendment to Clause 240(2) by Senator Ahmad Babba Kaita (APC, Katsina North), which was seconded by Ibrahim Gobir (APC, Sokoto East).

The approval of 3 percent for host communities represents an upward review of 0.5 percent from the previous 2.5 percent contribution to the host community development fund.

Efforts by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central), Senators James Manager (PDP, Delta South), George Thompson Sekibo (PDP, Rivers East), and Albert Bassey Akpan (PDP, (PDP, Akwa-Ibom North East) to demand an upward review met a brick wall from lawmakers.

Sekibo, in a move to sustain his agitation for an increase in contributions to host communities, relied on Order 73 of the Senate Rule and called for a division.

The Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi North), however, prevailed on Sekibo to withdraw his call for division, and reminded him of the commitment of Senators of the Ninth Assembly in fostering unity while keeping in mind their obligation at all times to protect the national interest.

The Senate Leader’s plea was accompanied by a subtle  reaction from the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who reminded Sekibo of the overwhelming support demonstrated by lawmakers who had earlier approved that host communities receive remediation and relief from monies accruing from gas flaring in the PIB.

Sekibo at this point withdrew his earlier call for division.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in his remarks after the eventual passage of the PIB, congratulated the Ninth Assembly and Joint Committee on Downstream Petroleum Sector; Petroleum Resources (Upstream); and Gas for the “tremendous and historical achievement of passing the long awaited Petroleum Industry Bill.”

According to him, the passage of the PIB was an indication that the “demon” behind its non-passage in the past had been finally defeated.

He added, “I must commend the leadership of the House of Representatives, too, for providing leadership to ensure that our Joint Committees in the Senate and the House work together to produce the report that we have just passed.

“Let me say that the Ninth Senate and, indeed, the Ninth National Assembly has achieved one of its fundamental items on the legislative agenda.

“We promised Nigerians that we will do our best to pass the PIB that has defied passage or defied assent. At least, the demons are being defeated in this chamber.”

Lawan appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to give expeditious assent to the bill when it is eventually forwarded to him by the National Assembly.

The Senate, thereafter, adjourned plenary till next week Tuesday, the 6th of July, 2021.

 

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I made mistake in picking Atiku as my Running Mate in 1999 – Obasanjo laments

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo
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Ex-President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has disclosed that when he served as a head of state in 1999 as a civilian, he had made a mistake picking his vice.

Obasanjo made this statement while fielding questions from secondary school students at a program at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Obasanjo admitted to making many “genuine mistakes” in his life while interacting with the students, but claimed that God helped him overcome them.

“Choosing my number two when I wanted to be president was one of the errors I made. But God saved me because it was an honest mistake, said Obasanjo.

Obasanjo while interacting with the students revealed that he had made many “genuine mistakes” in his life; saying, however, that God made him overcome them.

“One of the mistakes I made was picking my number two when I wanted to become the president. But because it was a genuine mistake, God saved me,” Obasanjo said.
According to reports, Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential contender, served as Obasanjo’s second-in-command from 1999 to 2007.

Obasanjo and Atiku clashed with one and other for years while in government over matters they couldn’t agree on.

When discussing his second error, Obasanjo claimed that it occurred when General Sani Abacha, a late military ruler, was going to arrest him and the American Embassy offered him asylum which he refused.

Obasanjo claimed that had God not intervened, he would have perished during his time in prison.

“When Abacha wanted to arrest me, I was told by the American ambassador that they will arrest me and that America has asked that I should be given an asylum. I said no. It could have been a mistake because I could have lost my life.”

The Balogun Owu stated that God had saved him from many things that could have been a mistake.

When asked whether the youths could be allowed to rule the nation, Obasanjo expressed worries, stating that youths may never come into power should the current trend in Nigeria continues.

The former president regretted that in spite of the “Not Too Young to Run” campaign, people contesting to rule the nation are between 70 and 80 years old.

“How can the youths run,” he asked, adding that the amount of money involved in going into politics would not allow youths to get to leadership positions.

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5000 LAGOSIANS GET FREE HEALTH INSURANCE ON SANWO-OLU’S BIRTHDAY

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Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu
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No fewer than 5000 Lagosians are to be enrolled in the Ilera Eko Social Health Plan – courtesy of the Lagos State Executive Council.

The gesture is to celebrate Governor Sanwo-Olu’s 57th birthday on June 25 and in the spirit of his compassion for the indigent and vulnerable.

Beneficiaries will have access to quality health care services and drugs under the ILERA EKO Standard Plan at no cost to them.

Nominees will be selected from the Lagos State Social Protection Register. An equal number of the 5000 eligible beneficiaries are to be selected from the five IBILE divisions of the State and will enjoy Universal Health Coverage.

These beneficiaries have been identified using a multi-dimensional poverty index tool, which includes the poverty means-testing to ensure accuracy, reliability and validity of the data generated.

ILERA EKO is the State Social Health Insurance Plan managed by Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA), which offers the basic minimum health plan that provides quality and affordable healthcare for all Lagos residents, especially the middle and low-income earners as well as the vulnerable.

Services on the Plan include: General consultations; Specialist Consultations; Management of uncomplicated chronic diseases (Diabetes, Hypertension, Asthma); Maternal and Newborn Care; Normal Delivery and Caesarean Section; Dental Care (with Composite filling) and Eye Care, including glasses.

There are also minor and major surgeries; laboratory tests and scans; HIV/TB Testing services; Emergency Health Services; Cancer Care and the provision of prescribed drugs.

A policy cycle under the ILERA EKO Health Insurance Plan runs for 12 calendar months in which an enrolee’s policy is due for renewal before the 25th day of the 12th month to enable such subscribers have access to care the next month (Start of renewed policy cycle).

The selected beneficiaries will commence access to care from July 1, 2022.

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Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Wife remanded as UK Court denies them bail

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Senator Ike Ekweremadu and his wife
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An Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court in the United Kingdom did not grant bail to Ike Ekweremadu, former Deputy Senate President, and Beatrice, his wife, who were apprehended over attempted harvesting of organs.

It was gathered that the Nigerian couple was detained by the Metropolitan Police when they tried harvesting an unnamed child’s organs.

When the Senator was arraigned on Thursday, the court refused to grant him bail but ordered that he should be remanded till July 7

The Metropolitan Police while confirming the arrest said in a statement that the pair were charged to court on Thursday following an investigation by the police’ specialist crime team.

“Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, 55 (10.9.66) of Nigeria is charged with conspiracy to arrange/facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting,” the statement read.

“Ike Ekweremadu, 60 (12.05.62) of Nigeria is charged with conspiracy to arrange/facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting.

They have both been remanded in custody and will appear at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court later today.

“A child has been safeguarded and we are working closely with partners on continued support.”

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