President Muhammadu Buhari has sent a request to the Senate to amend the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021.

The proposal for the amendment of the act follows plans to expand the membership of the board of directors and to address the issue of geographical balance in its membership among other changes.

The request by the President is contained in a letter sent to the Senate and read by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary on Tuesday on the floor of the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

What the President is requesting for in the amendment

President Buhari, in the letter dated September 16, explained that the request for amendment became necessary having carefully reviewed the administrative structure of both the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, and the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission.

The 3 areas of the act that the president is seeking amendment for include the appointment of non-executive board members, removal of the Ministries of Petroleum Resources and Finance from the boards of the two institutions, as well as the appointment of executive directors.

Although the PIA had made provision for the appointment of 2 non-executive directors, President Buhari is seeking an expansion of the membership of the board to take care of the geopolitical zones

The letter partly reads, “I am of the view that this membership limitation has not addressed the principle of balanced geopolitical representation of the country,” he said in the letter to the lawmakers.

“I, therefore, pray for the intervention of the 9th Assembly to correct this oversight in the interest of our national unity.

“Needless to add that this amendment will provide a sense of participation and inclusion to almost every section of the country in the decision making of strategic institutions such as the oil industry.”

If approved, the President is hopeful that the amendment will increase the number of non-executive board members from 2 to 6, with each of the regions having a representation.

What you should know

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari, on August 16, 2021, signed the PIA into law, after it was passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly in July and almost 20 years after it was first introduced, representing a significant milestone for Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.

The Senate had a few days ago, underscored the need for the implementation committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure timely execution of the Petroleum Industry Act.