By Bassey Udo
Workers in the three erstwhile regulatory agencies in the petroleum industry scrapped by the Federal Government following the commencement of the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) have no reason to fear over their fate in service, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timi Sylva, has assured.
On Monday, at the inauguration of the boards of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority and the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission in Abuja, the Minister clarified that the take-off of the newly enacted PIA meant the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) have all ceased to exist officially.
DPR was the agency that was the monitoring and regulatory agency in charge of the petroleum industry until the recent passage of the PIA.
The PPPRA was the agency in charge of monitoring and regulation of petroleum products pricing in the country, while the PEF was responsible for ensuring petroleum products were distributed at the same price across all parts of the country.
Also, Sylva said the scrapping of the three agencies meant the tenures of their former chief executive officers had equally ended, since they were political appointees to those positions.
Despite the clarification by the Minister, workers in the three agencies were still agitated and anxious about their fate, as they expressed fears that they may be made to suffer the same fate as their former CEOs.
But, the Minister moved swiftly on Wednesday to douse the growing tension over job security, as he visited the three agencies to reassure the workers.
The Minister who visited the agencies in Abuja in the company of the Chief Executive Officers of the Upstream Regulatory Commission, Gbenga Komolafe, and the Nigerian Midstream & Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NPRA), Farouk Ahmed, assured the workers that nobody would be sacked, as the PIA has guaranteed their jobs in the successor regulatory agencies.
At separate meetings with the workers, Sylva explained that the assets and liabilities of the defunct regulatory agencies would be fully taken over by the successor agencies.
“It is normal that at a junction like this, there are anxieties about the future of people. 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 was then, was to be wound down, and two successor agencies were to be inaugurated.
“Of course, myself I have to step down as Chairman of the NNPC Board as you all are aware. It is all because this is what the law states,” Sylva told the workers.
The Minister denied the Federal Government sacked the heads of the defunct agencies, clarifying that with the PIA, the two agencies were created and new CEOs appointed by the President and cleared by the National Assembly.
The appointment, the Minister said, meant the political leaderships of the DPR, PEF and the PPPRA would no longer have any place to continue to stay.
“But I want to assure you that staffs of DPR have nothing to worry about job loss, because the law is very clear. Also, on the position of the staff of the PEF and PPPRA. No job or remuneration would be lost in this process.
“The process is ongoing and the implementation committee is working on it, and the new CEOs will join that committee and we will work together to ensure that there is a seamless transition”, he added.
At PEF, the Minister assured the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) who are involved in the haulage of premium motor spirit (petrol) and other stakeholders that their transactions with the fund would be taken over by the Nigerian Midstream & Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.
“I want to also reassure NARTO and other people who have commitmentt with PEF that the law vests all the liabilities and assets of PEF on the new Midstream & Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority. And therefore they should be assured that whatever liabilities they have with PEF will be taken care of by the new organization. Nothing will be affected. So, nobody should be worried. The law envisaged this and has taken care of it”, he assured.
Speaking earlier, the Head, Corporate Services, DPR, Ibrahim Ciroma assured the Minister and the CEOs that the workers were ready to support them and implement the reforms envisaged by the government under the PIA.
Also speaking at the PPPRA, Olasupo Agbaje, General Manager, Gas and Renewable, assured that the staff were also ready to support the new management to grow the sector.
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