The establishment of a new regulatory agency, the Nigeria Petroleum Regulatory Commission, as captured in the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, will not lead to the mass retrenchment of workers in three agencies that are currently under the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
According to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, fears of a possible mass sacking when the three affected agencies are collapsed into one entity should be dismissed, as the government has no such a plan.
In the PIGB, the NPRC will take over the functions of the Petroleum Inspectorate, the Department of Petroleum Resources and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency.
The PIGB has been passed by the National Assembly and will become law as soon as it is assented to by the President.
Kachikwu also called for a fully independent petroleum industry regulator, adding that proper funding must be given to the NPRC once it commenced operations in order to enable it deliver its mandate as a regulatory commission.
The minister spoke in Abuja on Thursday at an event organised by the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter in partnership with Media Initiative on Transparency in Extractive Industries on ‘Understanding the Petroleum Sector Reforms proposed by the PIGB’.
Kachikwu, who was represented by his Senior Technical Assistant, Upstream and Gas, Adeniji Adegbite, said, “One key thing that we must understand with respect to the PIGB is that we need a very good regulator that is fully independent and is insulated from all forms of interference.
“Having a very good regulator is key and is at the same time dangerous if it does not have competent people to manage it. And when we say competent people, that does not mean we envisage or plan to lay off workers as it is being said in some quarters. That is not the plan.”
The minister explained that rather than lay off workers, employees in the affected agencies would be reorganised and their skills enhanced.