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Anxiety in defunct oil agencies as new heads take charge

By Kingsley Jeremiah, Abuja
21 October 2021   |   4:14 am
It is not the best moment at the defunct Department of Petroleum Resources, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Authority and the Petroleum Equalisation Fund as fear, intrigue and tension follow the resumption of new heads ...

Timipre Sylva

It is not the best moment at the defunct Department of Petroleum Resources, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Authority and the Petroleum Equalisation Fund as fear, intrigue and tension follow the resumption of new heads of the agencies born out of the recently passed Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).

For the former head of DPR, Sarki Auwalu, that of PPPRA, Abdulkadir Saidu, who was initially reappointed for another four years in June this year and that of PEF, Ahmed Bobboi and some of their workers, the ongoing implementation may not settle, as their offices no longer exist, even as some staff may be demoted.

While the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylvia yesterday, in Abuja, moved across the three offices to officially introduce the heads as the agencies are now split between Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) and Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NPRA), Gbenga Komolafe now heads NUPRC, as Ahmed Farouk presides over NPRA.

The prevailing uncertainty has also created tension for most contractors and players in the petroleum value chain, especially marketers and members of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO).

Although Sylvia assured the workers and players of protection under the law, there were mixed reception and reactions across the three offices.

The team was warmly welcomed at the defunct PPPRA with beautiful decorations and exchange of gift items to dignitaries as the agency flaunts a banner, ‘Welcome to the Authority’ to show that they have known and accepted their position in the new regime. Besides, it was more of home coming for Farouk, who once headed the agency.

It was not the same at PEF and DPR, currently waiting to understand a move, which happened swiftly following a directive re
After about two decades of tinkering, the PIA scaled through in August amid criticisms after President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the legislation. While the Niger Delta region is yet to come to terms with the law, the ongoing implementation is being described as disappointing by most stakeholders, who noted that objectives of the law were being threatened by vested interests and undue political overbearing.

Recall Buhari had ordered the creation of NNPC Limited, constituted the board, ordered the creation of the commission and authority, their boards and sent names of the heads of the agencies for confirmation by the Senate.

But in a swift reaction, he exchanged the name of Auwalu, the former head of DPR, who was to be confirmed as head of the NPRA.

Addressing employees of the defunct DPR, Sylvia said: “It is normal that at junctions like this there are anxieties. That is why I thought I should come by myself along with the Permanent Secretary to assure you that this is a very normal transition.

The PIA has been passed and the law stipulates that certain actions must be taken; that the DPR as it then was, was to split and succeeded by two agencies.

“But I want to assure you that the staff of DPR have nothing to worry about, because the law is very clear on the position of the staff of the DPR of PEF and PPPRA.”

According to him, no job is to be lost in the process, stressing that no remuneration will also be lost in the process as their welfare is projected.

He called for full cooperation with the new head, noting ongoing yearly staff promotion won’t be compromised.

Sylvia, repeatedly similar speech at PEF and PPPRA noted that contractors in the sector as well as stakeholders like NARTO has nothing to worry about as ongoing contractors and necessary functions remained cover under the law.

While the out gone head of DPR and PPPRA were not present at the meeting that of PEF gave a warm welcome as Sylvia told his staff to shift allegiance to their new boss.

Head, Corporate Services at the defunct DPR, Ibrahim Ciroma, who welcomed the minister in place of Auwalu, noted that the agency have already compiled a guide for the two new agencies to ensure smooth transition.

An Acting Executive Secretary at PPPRA, Olasupo Agbaje stated that the prevailing inauguration remained key steps towards the actualisation of the regulatory framework as provided for in the PIA, adding that the move would ensure regulatory best practice in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.

“We must salute the doggedness, determination and commitment of the Honorable Minister in ensuring a seamless and timely implementation,” Agbaje said.

According to him, Buhari will be remembered in the oil and gas industry as key enabler of transformation that delivered maximum value for Nigeria’s hydrocarbon resources.