Alison-Madueke Defends Powers Conferred on Iweala in PIB
Minister of Petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke at the weekend charged members of the National Assembly to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) without removing the controversial clause.
Stakeholders, including the lawmakers have argued that the enormous powers conferred on the Minister is unhealthy, including the one that anyone who does not comply with the oil minister’s orders can be fined or even jailed.
A statement issued by the Nigerian national Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) at the weekend quoted Alison-Madueke has saying this after appearing at the public hearing on the bill.
“The powers complained of are even less than what my counterparts in advanced oil producing countries enjoy,” Alison-Madueke said.
The minister’s powers would include supervising all institutions of the industry, not just the state oil company.
Currently, the minister is in charge of the state oil company but does not control some other agencies such as the downstream pricing regulator.
“The powers vested in the minister are not different from (those in) … other countries in which best practices are followed,” Alison-Madueke said, defending the clauses.
“The powers complained of are even less than what my counterparts in advanced oil producing countries enjoy.”
She also rejected accusations that she was surreptitiously trying to increase her own powers, arguing that by the time the bill was operational, probably in no less than five years, she and President Jonathan would no longer be in their posts.
“The bill when passed into law should represent a win-win situation for all stakeholders. It would further enhance the sector and contribute to the GDP (gross domestic product),” she said.
The PIB, a vast piece of legislation meant to overhaul everything from fiscal terms to the structure of the state oil company, has been more than five years in the making and has not passed because of political wrangling over its many clauses. A public hearing was held on it through last week.
Uncertainty while it is being debated has held up billions of dollars worth of exploration and production. President Goodluck Jonathan sent the latest draft of the bill to lawmakers exactly a year ago.
Two major sticking points are a special fund for communities living around oil fields, which has divided legislators along north-south lines, and extra powers granted the minister, which has united them against her.
Oil majors are also unhappy about proposed fiscal terms.