PIB: Stakeholders accuse NASS of deliberately eroding trade ministry’s powers
Urge Buhari To Veto Bill Until Ministry’s Critical Functions, Activities Are Restored
Although the long-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) has been passed, stakeholders in the industry have accused the National Assembly of deliberately eroding the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment’s powers of issuing permit for crude oil, petroleum product and gas, in accordance with the 1999 Constitution.
They argued that PIB’s provisions, as they presently stand, are tantamount to expunging extant laws governing activities of the ministry’s Weights and Measures department.
“Items 65 of the Exclusive, Legislative List Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the Weight and Measures act Cap W3 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, as amended, and the pre-shipment Inspections for export Act Cap P25 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2007 are clear facts on this issue,” they said.
The above laws, they claimed, were made in recognition of the significant roles of Weights and Measures as indispensable and potent instrument for the promotion of fiscal goals, as well as implementation of the country’s fiscal policy, with a view to entrenching transparency, probity, accountability and good governance.
They, therefore, urge President Buhari to withhold his assent to the bill, until the Ministry’s powers are restored. Briefing Journalists, yesterday, in Abuja, the Chairman, Implementing Nigerian legal meteorology system, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and investment, Engr. Yabagi Sannis, said contrary to international best practices and procedure, the current PIB is intended to assume the functions of Weights and Measures of verification/fiscalisation, calibration and certification of all measuring instruments at upstream, midstream and downstream sectors of the petroleum industry.
He said: “The bill is also assuming powers of determination of the quantity of petroleum and gas products for trade purposes, issuance of pattern of approval and certification for measuring instruments, used in the petroleum industry, as well as the introduction of measuring instrument that will enhance and guarantee accurate measurement and transparency in the industry, among others.
“What am saying is that Nigeria’s survival depends largely on the oil sector for now. To that extent, the concentration of power to supervise the crucial and sensitive sector in the hand of one agency will be counterproductive to the demands of checks and balances, accountability, probity and transparency.”
He argued that there could not be ambiguities in the conclusion that the identified lapses of the PIB would lead to total erosion of the extant statutory functions of the Weights and Measures in the oil sector, which obviously is against international convention and industry practices globally.
A retired Director, Petroleum upstream of the NNPC, Engr. Tunde Balogun, said asking Buhari not to assent to the bill, as submitted by the National Assembly, was based on the fact that constitutionally and within other existing legal frameworks, the business of export and import is vested in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.
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