Abuja-based lawyers, Messrs Pelumi Olajengbesi and Henry Kelechukwu, have appealed to the National Assembly (NASS) to ensure that the proposed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), 2020 was tailored to strengthen the policy arm of the petroleum industry and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
The lawyers made the appeal in a memorandum on the PIB they jointly signed and addressed to the Senate Committee on Gas Resources, and seen by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday.
Olajengbesi and Kelechukwu, both Senior partners at the Law Corridor, an Abuja-based law firm, stated that the bill should be properly structured to harness the proficiency of the non-pool professionals engaged in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
“We strongly recommend that the bill should create and establish the National Petroleum Directorate, as a professional arm of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. This is to immediately absorb all the non pool staffs/professionals already engaged in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to address issues like the lack of proper delineation, composition and operation of the policy arm of the Oil and Gas sector.
“Specifically, the bill should be structuring the Ministry of Petroleum Resources into two departments, the Administrative Department and the National Petroleum Directorate.
“The Administrative Department of the Ministry should be composed of the Civil Servants as is the case presently, and to be tasked with the day to day running and general functionality of the Ministry’s administration to ensure a seamless implementation of its policies and directives.
”The National Petroleum Directorate, on the other hand, will be tasked with the development of policies and instruments for the effective coordination and operation of the Oil and Gas industry,” Olajengbesi and Kelechukwu explained in the memorandum.
They also called for a review of the situation where external consultants’ were procured to carry out roles that can be handled by professionals in the ministry.
“Such external consultants discharge their brief only to exit upon the appointment of a new Minister, resulting in a break in the chain of policy development, continuity and sustainability of the Ministry’s policy directions.
“The redundancy of these professionals in the ministry has resulted in a colossal waste of human and intellectual resources garnered over the years, which was purposively directed at the service of the ministry but left unharnessed till date”, they said.
They also called for the renaming of the “Office of the Minister” in the Proposed Petroleum Industry Bill 2020, because the Minister derived his functionality and structure from the Ministry.
“It is imperative to state that all Ministries of the Federal Government statutorily have the Office of the Minister as a component part of its entity and administration. Hence, the office of the Minister cannot be recognized in isolation of the Ministry as the Minister derives his functionality and structure from the Ministry.
“The Ministry is, in fact, the foundation and bedrock from which the Minister derives purpose and intent to perform optimally by maximising the Ministry’s structural and professional existence for the growth and development of the petroleum sector.
“The resultant and implicit effect of the use of the “Office of the Minister”, rather than reference of same as the Head of the Ministry, could invariably necessitate the usurpation of the role and functionality of the entire Ministry’s stake in the sector.” (NAN)