- FG Backs Single Petroleum Sector Regulator, Wants Minister as Chair
The federal government has said it was in support of the idea of a single regulator for Nigeria’s entire petroleum sector as proposed in the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) currently before the Senate for consideration.
It however stated that it would want the commission to be created by the PIGB in this regard to be chaired by the minister of petroleum resources.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu stated this in his address at the National Assembly during the public hearing in the bill, which is sponsored by Senator Tayo Alasoadura from Ondo Central.
“We are aligned on the concept of a single regulator for the petroleum industry. What Nigeria needs going forward is a regulator that covers the field, as opposed to dissipated regulatory power amongst agencies.
“The regulator should cover upstream, midstream and downstream oil, gas and products regulation, as well as technical, economic and Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) regulation,” said Kachikwu.
Speaking on the composition of the proposed commission, the minister explained: “There needs to be careful calibration of the relationship between the role of the minister as the institution charged with overall supervision of the industry vis-à-vis that of the super regulator as the institution responsible for regulation.
“The calibration must ensure checks and balances on regulatory power through tools such as administrative law; however, it seems essential that the power to issue regulations should at all times reside with the minister.”
He stated: “Section13 does not envisage a position for the minister on the board of the commission. We propose that the minister chair the board of the commission to ensure effective interface between the regulatory and policy making institutions.”
The PIGB, he stated proposes four year terms for commissioners but that in accord with best practice, the government would suggest that staggered terms for commissioners be considered in order to ensure continuity in the governance of the commission such that there would not be vacancy of executive commissioners in office at any time.
Kachikwu also said the government would propose that the PIGB consider setting up a technical directorate for the industry, as well as an open registry regime to advance transparency in the affairs of the commission.
“A core aspect of the reforms that we propose to the effectiveness of the minister’s powers to issue policies, supervise the industry and manage Nigeria’s petroleum resources, is the need for a well-resourced and solid technical back office.
“Hence, the National Oil Policy and the National Gas Policy contains proposals for institutional reforms at the ministry of petroleum resources in this regard. It is our position that the PIGB should address this long standing issue legislatively by creating a Petroleum Technical Directorate,” he stated.
He added: “An essential issue, going forward, is the need to establish a registry of records for all the titles to be issued and managed by the commission. This will aid public access to information, and the due diligence reviews by third parties into assets.”
Ekiti Governor Unveils Multi-Billion Naira Relief Programmes Amid Economic Crisis
Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji, has announced a comprehensive relief package aimed at alleviating the hardship faced by the people of the state.
The relief programs encompass various sectors to cushion the impact of the economic downturn.
One of the key initiatives entails clearing salary arrears amounting to over N2.7 billion owed to both State and Local Government workers.
This move signifies the government’s commitment to addressing the financial burdens faced by its workforce.
Furthermore, Governor Oyebanji has approved a substantial increase of N600 million per month in the subvention of autonomous institutions, including the Judiciary and tertiary institutions.
This augmentation is intended to enable these institutions to implement wage awards in alignment with State and Local Government workers’ salaries.
In addition to addressing salary arrears, the relief programs extend to pensioners, with the approval of payments totaling N1.5 billion for two months’ pension arrears.
Moreover, an increase in the monthly gratuity payment to state pensioners and local government pensioners will provide additional financial support, totaling N200 million monthly.
The relief initiatives also encompass agricultural and small-scale business sectors.
The allocation of funds for food production and livestock transformation projects underscores the government’s commitment to enhancing food security and economic sustainability at the grassroots level.
Governor Oyebanji emphasized that these relief programs are part of the state’s concerted efforts to mitigate the adverse effects of the economic downturn and foster shared prosperity.
The comprehensive nature of the initiatives reflects a proactive approach towards addressing the challenges faced by Ekiti State residents.
President Tinubu Orders Immediate Settlement of N342m Electricity Bill for Presidential Villa
President Bola Tinubu has directed the prompt settlement of a N342 million outstanding electricity bill owed by the Presidential Villa to the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC).
This move comes in response to the reconciliation of accounts between the State House Management and the AEDC.
The AEDC had earlier threatened to disconnect electricity services to the Presidential Villa and 86 Federal Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) over a total outstanding debt of N47.20 billion as of December 2023.
Contrary to the initial claim by the AEDC that the State House owed N923 million in electricity bills, the Presidency clarified that the actual outstanding amount is N342.35 million.
This discrepancy underscores the importance of accurate accounting and reconciliation between entities.
In a statement signed by President Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, the Presidency affirmed the commitment to settle the debt promptly.
Chief of Staff Femi Gbajabiamila assured that the debt would be paid to the AEDC before the end of the week.
The directive from the Presidency extends beyond the State House, as Gbajabiamila urged other MDAs to reconcile their accounts with the AEDC and settle their outstanding electricity bills.
The AEDC, on its part, issued a 10-day notice to the affected government agencies to settle their debts or face disconnection.
This development highlights the importance of financial accountability and responsible management of public utilities.
It also underscores the necessity for government entities to fulfill their financial obligations to service providers promptly, ensuring uninterrupted services and avoiding potential disruptions.
Abuja Electricity Distribution Company Issues Ultimatum to 86 Government Agencies Over N47bn Debt
The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) has issued an ultimatum to 86 government agencies, including the Presidential Villa, owing a collective debt of N47 billion.
The notice comes as a response to the prolonged failure of these agencies to settle their outstanding electricity bills.
According to the public notice released by the AEDC management, some of the highest debts are attributed to prominent entities such as the National Security Adviser (owing N95.9 billion), the Chief of Defence staff barracks, and military formations (indebted to the tune of N12 billion).
Also, several ministries, including the Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory and the Ministry of Power, have sizable outstanding bills.
The AEDC has expressed its frustration over the inability of these government bodies to honor their financial obligations despite previous attempts to facilitate payment.
In response, the company has warned of imminent disconnection of services if the outstanding debts are not settled within 10 days of the notice.
The outstanding debts are attributed to various factors including the devaluation of the naira, cash scarcity resulting from demonetization programs, high inflation rates, removal of fuel subsidies, and foreign exchange challenges.
These financial burdens have adversely impacted the operations of the AEDC, contributing to a loss of N99 million in foreign exchange alone.
As the deadline for payment approaches, government agencies are under pressure to address their outstanding debts to avoid service disruptions.
The AEDC remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring that all entities fulfill their financial obligations, underscoring the importance of prompt payment for uninterrupted electricity services.
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