SENATE yesterday began the process of unbundling the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, by passing for second reading the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill 2016, otherwise known as PIB. The bill sponsored by the chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Senator Tayo Alasoadura (APC Ondo Central), among others seeks to create efficient and effective institutions with clear and separate roles for the petroleum industry. Alasoadura in his lead debate on the bill said the existing NNPC would be unbundled into two commercial entities limited by shares, which are the National Petroleum Company, NPC, and the National Assets Management Company, NAMC. He explained that the proposed NPC would operate as a commercial entity in order to ensure efficiency across the value chain while the NAMC shall ensure maximum value for the federation through prudent management of its oil and gas investment. Aside the Petroleum Minister which the new bill said would be responsible for policy formulation and supervision of the petroleum industry on behalf of the federal government, a commission to be known as the Petroleum Regulatory Commission, PRC, would be saddled with regulatory functions over the industry. Alasoadura added that the PRC would be the industry regulator and watchdog responsible for licensing, monitoring, supervision of petroleum operations, enforcing laws, regulations and standards across the value chain and explained that the bill is the first segment out of the five being worked upon by his committee to avoid controversies that affected passage of the previous ones presented in bulk-some in the past. “Continuous stalling and delay in the passage of the bill, has hampered huge investment opportunities, keeping the country’s future in limbo and denying Nigeria the unique competitive edge as oil and gas leader in Sub Saharan Africa. “Consequently, the current effort has adopted a method of splitting the PIB into logical smaller pieces for submission to the 8th National Assembly, a complete departure from all prior attempts. “This way, the individual elements can be expeditiously considered and passed one after the other and where amendments are required in future, the relevant bill can be separately considered.” He was, however, directed by Senate President Bukola Saraki, based on demands made by senators from the oil producing states, to quickly come up with a version of the bill that will address the issue of host communities. Saraki said: “Before we proceed into the finalization of this part of the bill, the committee must come with a bill regarding the issue of the host communities for discussion. And I think that that can be done within the next four weeks before we come back for consideration of clause by clause. “We must bring the bill here on community issues, frontiers so that we can also pass it into second reading and commit it to the committee. I think it would be fair to create an understanding that the purpose of this bill is to send the message that truly, as a Senate, we are committed in ensuring that we create that enabling environment for this sector.” The bill was later referred to Senate Committees on Petroleum (Upstream and Downstream) and that of Gas for more legislative inputs within the next four weeks.
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