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Experts fault power vested in petroleum minister’s office

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Minister of Petroleum, Timipre Sylva

Experts have demanded that the power vested in the office of the Minister of Petroleum must be reduced to maximise the potential of the petroleum industry.

They made the call, yesterday, at the ongoing two-day workshop on Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), tagged: Reforming the Oil and Gas Sector in Nigeria – Education Series for Media, in Lagos.

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An oil and gas consultant, Ademola Adigun, emphasised the need to expedite the passage of the PIB, noting that nobody should have the kind of power on a critical national asset vested in the office of the minister.

He said: “Every power must be balanced and checked by the people. What should be done is that PIB should be passed so that powers can be checked by legal provision. Nobody should have any power in absolute. All powers must be balanced.

He warned that if the issues surrounding the oil and gas sector were not addressed urgently, the sector would soon become irrelevant.

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“If we don’t do anything with our oil and gas now, it will become irrelevant. Crude is something that is not finite. The world is moving towards other advances. What is good for us is to ensure that we maximise the potential in crude by ensuring that we get more jobs from it.”

On his part, Senior Partner, Commercial Contracts and Energy at the Primera Africa Legal, Israel Aye, said that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

“The NNPC is where it is not necessarily by deliberate design but because of the institutional memory of the corporation, it has acted as a de-facto back office to successive ministers on policies which interfere with its primary role of being the representative of the Federal Government in terms of its commercial interest.

“That creates lots of disjointedness to the extent that it probably can’t perform its primary role effectively and dabbles into other things. I would have thought that we would create a back office for the minister with perpetual succession and it will be able to attract the right calibre of staff.”

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