The new Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is seeking to give enormous powers to oil and gas firms operating in the country in the setting up of the proposed host communities development trust, appoint key members of the trust, determine its membership and criteria for their appointment.
In the bill currently before the National Assembly, the oil and gas firms are also to be empowered to suspend or remove members of the Board of Trustees to be set up for the host communities development trust, determine procedures for their meetings and provide regulations guiding their finances, among others.
According to the bill, the objectives of the host communities’ development trust included to finance and execute projects for the benefit and sustainable development of the host communities; undertake infrastructural development of the host communities within the scope of funds available to the Board of Trustees for such purposes; and facilitate economic empowerment opportunities in the host communities among others.
The PIB also requires that a fund, called the ‘host community development trust fund’, be set up, where the settler, also called the oil and gas firm, would contribute annually, an amount equal to 2.5 per cent of its actual operating expenditure in the immediately preceding calendar year in respect of all petroleum operations affecting the host communities for which the applicable host community development trust was established.
The new PIB is seeking to empower oil and gas firms, also called ‘settlers’ in the bill, to incorporate the trust for the benefit of the host communities for which the settler is responsible and also appoint and authorise a body trustees, to be called the ‘Board of Trustees’.
The Board of Trustees, according to the PIB, shall apply to be registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission as a corporate body under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, while its constitution shall contain provisions requiring the settler to determine the Board’s membership and the criteria for their appointment.
However, it added that the membership of the Board of Trustees of the host communities’ development trust shall be subject to the approval of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission or the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, as the case may be.
“The settler shall, in the determination of membership of the Board of Trustees, include persons of high integrity and professional standing, who may not necessarily come from any of the host communities,” the bill said.
The bill further stipulates that the settler shall determine the selection process, procedure for meeting, financial regulations and administrative procedures of the Board of Trustees; the remuneration, discipline, qualification, disqualification, suspension and removal of members of the Board of Trustees; and other matters other than those relating to the operation and activities of the Board of Trustees.
However, it noted that the Commission or the Authority, as the case may be, shall make regulations on the administration, guide and safeguard the utilisation of the trust fund; and have the oversight responsibility for ensuring that the projects proposed by the board of trustees are implemented.
It said: “Each member of the Board of Trustees shall serve a term of four years in the first instance and may be reappointed for another term of four years and no more. The Board of Trustees shall have a secretary, who shall be appointed by the settler to keep the books of the Board.”
Highlighting the duties and functions of the Board of Trustees, the PIB is also proposing that the Board of Trustees shall be responsible for the general management of the host communities’ development trust.
It stated that the Board of Trustees shall be responsible for: “determining the criteria, process and proportion of the host communities’ development trust fund to be allotted to specific development programs; approving the projects for which the host communities development trust fund shall be utilised.
“Providing general oversight of the projects for which the host communities development trust fund shall be utilised; approving the appointment of fund managers for purposes of managing the reserve fund; set up the management committee of the host communities development trust and appoint its members; and determining the allocation of funds to host communities based on the matrix provided by the settler.”
Emirates Suspends Flights To Nigeria From Sept
Emirates Airlines, yesterday, announced the suspension of its flight operations in Nigeria from September 1, 2022.
It said the suspension became necessary following its inability to repatriate its funds from Nigeria.
International carriers operating in Nigeria have repeatedly complained about their inability to repatriate funds to their home countries.
They have raised this concern on many occasions with officials of the Federal Ministry of Aviation, as well as those at the finance ministry.
Blocked funds belonging to these airlines have risen to about $600million, as this is due to the inability of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to make the United States dollar available for the carriers to repatriate.
In its statement, yesterday, Emirates Airlines stated that it “has tried every avenue to address our ongoing challenges in repatriating funds from Nigeria, and we have made considerable efforts to initiate dialogue with the relevant authorities for their urgent intervention to help find a viable solution.”
It added, “Regrettably there has been no progress. Therefore, Emirates has taken the difficult decision to suspend all flights to and from Nigeria, effective September 1, 2022, to limit further losses and impact on our operational costs that continue to accumulate in the market.
“We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused to our customers, however, the circumstances are beyond our control at this stage. We will be working to help impacted customers make alternative travel arrangements wherever possible.”
It, however, noted that should there be any positive developments in the coming days regarding Emirates’ blocked funds in Nigeria, the airline would, of course, re-evaluate its decision.
“We remain keen to serve Nigeria, and our operations provide much-needed connectivity for Nigerian travellers, providing access to trade and tourism opportunities to Dubai, and to our broader network of over 130 destinations,” the global carrier stated.
RSNC GM Tasks Medical Practitioners On Emerging Pandemics
The General Manager of the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation, Publishers of The Tide Newspaper, Chief Ernest Chinwo, has called on medical practitioners in the country to assist the government find workable solution to the array of emerging pandemics, including COVID-19, Lassa fever and monkeypox currently ravaging the country.
Chinwo said this in his office during a courtesy call by organisers of the Rivers State Joint Health Summit 2022.
Represented by the Acting Chairman of Editorial Board and Supervising Editor, Mr Nelson Chukwudi, the general manager also stressed the need for the health professionals to come up with private sector-driven health insurance scheme for the country.
He said that it also behoves on them to pool resources together with a view to building mega hospitals in the country to stem the tide of medical tourism abroad while at the same time curbing brain drain.
The general manager also tasked them to check the incidence of quackery in the medical profession.
Chinwo commended them for the proposed summit, assuring of the cooperation and support of the corporation, especially in providing adequate coverage to their activities.
He said the corporation, since inception has been on the forefront in publicising health issues, stressing that it was against this background that a page was dedicated in The Tide newspaper for health, and called for medical experts to contribute to the robustness of content on the page.
He further noted that beside newspaper publishing, the corporation also does all kinds of commercial printing jobs, and solicited patronage from the health professionals.
Earlier, Secretary General of the Rivers State Joint Health Summit, Dr. Joseph Olawuyi, said the summit with the theme “Repositioning HealthCare services in Rivers state” earlier proposed for the 22 to 26 of August 2022 was moved to October 2022 to ensure mass participation by both government and non-governmental organisations.
Olawuyi said the summit which is being put together by private medical practitioners in partnership with government aims at refocusing the health sector for quality service in the state.
He said a lot of people both within and outside the country have started registering for the summit.
According to him the event will also be used to train health practitioner’s on biomedical engineering as well as encourage the utilization of abundant medical equipment by practitioners.
He urged for a health bank in the country to create access to soft loans by health practitioners.
Olawuyi said the event which will be declared open by Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike will be attended by people from all walks of life including members of the armed forces amongst others.
By: John Bibor & Oreoluwa Adigun
FG Spends N18.69bn Daily On Subsidy, Minister Confirms
The Minister of Finance and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has disclosed that Nigeria spends N18.69billion daily on petroleum subsidies.
She stated this, yesterday, when she appeared before the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating oil subsidies.
The minister claimed Nigeria consumes 64million litres per day, and that the figure could have been influenced by smuggling.
Ahmed said the executive is also concerned about the increment in daily consumption.
She noted that some of the products are being smuggled outside the country, adding that during COVID-19 locked down, daily consumption dropped significantly.
She stated that the president alone cannot take the decision on removing subsidy, insisting that there must be a multi-stakeholder approach, including all political parties, who must sit to make the decision.
The minister disclosed that the landing cost of petroleum is N448 per litre and that the NNPC takes care of the rest through under recovery.
She further said the Federal Executive Council has also expressed worry about the figure presented by the NNPC, adding that as the Minister of Finance, she has no access to the bank statement of the NNPC.
The Chairman of the Committee, Ibrahim Aliyu, questioned the figure provided by the minister.
Aliyu said even during the COVID19 locked down, Nigeria was still consuming high volume, which according to him was not logical.
He claimed the daily petroleum consumption was about 32million litres.
But the minister responded that she is not sure whether daily consumption has doubled and not also sure if the total number of vehicles in the country has doubled in the past 10 years.
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