By Adewale Sanyaolu
The last may not have been heard of the recently passed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into an Act as a former President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Mr. Peter Esele, has said the problem with the industry may not be over soon.
Esele faulted the decision of the Federal Government to vest 60 per cent shareholding structure of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), saying the move would further politicise the running of the corporation.
‘‘Allotting 60 per cent of NNPC stake to Ministry of Finance creates room for politics to be involved. From day one, I am looking at this law as a half glass full.”
The former union leader stated this when he featured on a live programme on Channels Television at the weekend.
He said politicians should take their politics out of business and allow technocrats run the affairs of the corporation in the best way they know.
‘‘Allotting 60 per cent of NNPC stake to the Ministry of Finance creates room for politics. From day one, I am looking at this law as a half glass full. The reason the 12 laws that govern the petroleum sector didn’t work is because of undue interference.”
According to Esele, another problem is not allowing the NNPC Group Managing Director (GMD) have a fixed tenure. He said it is a major flaw of the PIA not to allow the NNPC GMD to have a fixed term in office, saying this is largely political and does not leave room for planning because the President can just wake up one day and announce his removal from office.
The new legislation established the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Limited). The NNPC Limited will be an offshoot of the current NNPC – incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act.
The law stipulates that the incorporation of NNPC into a limited liability company will be done within six months after the president’s assent.
By incorporation, the new company will run as a commercial entity while the Federal Government still owns all shares held by the Ministry of Finance and Petroleum Resources on its behalf.
This is against the submission of southern governors who requested that the ownership of NNPC Limited be in the trust of Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) instead of the Federal Ministry of Finance.
Also speaking, the President of Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria (PETROAN), Mr. Billy Gillis-Harry, said it remained regrettable that the PIA does not give room for liberalisation of the downstream sector, saying a situation where the importation of petroleum products is left in the hands of a privileged few remained a major sector to the industry.
He said associations such as PETROAN representing about 39,000 retail outlets should have been given an opportunity to import petroleum products, saying some of his members have the capacity to do so.