You can’t single-handedly sell national assets – Rivers, others tells Nigerian govt

A Group of Host Communities in the Niger Delta region have criticised the proposal by the Federal Government of Nigeria to unbundle the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and privatise a part of it as well as oil assets without the approval of other tiers of government.

The communities, in their presentations to the House of Representatives on the Petroleum Industry Bill, a copy of which our correspondent obtained, said that the proposal to eventually sell off a national petroleum company to be created from the NNPC required a collective approval of all stakeholders.

The Rivers State Government, which also expressed a similar view in a separate presentation, said that the NNPC and petroleum assets belong to the federation and not the Federal Government alone.

The Group, Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas, in its presentation to the House Committee on PIB, which held a public hearing between Wednesday and Thursday, particularly faulted the proposed plan to empower the petroleum minister to solely determine the fate of national assets in the oil and gas sector.
Its position was contained in the document signed by the National President, HOSTCOM, Chief Benjamin Tamaranebi, “on behalf of host communities of Nigeria.”

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It read in part, “It may be necessary to have a mechanism whereby the minister may have to obtain the approval of the federation in matters that affect the Federation Account, especially the petroleum producing states and the host communities.

“This is especially important because all the assets the minister is to supervise belong to the federation and not the Federal Government. It would, therefore, be wrong to seek the approval of the Federal Government alone if the minister wishes to divest any asset that is under his purview.”
The host communities also warned against privatisation in the petroleum sector, saying it posed a major economic threat to Nigeria.

‌In the presentation signed by the Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources, Rivers Sate, Peter Medee, the State Government faulted the clause, ‘Vesting of Petroleum: The property and ownership of petroleum within Nigeria and its territorial waters, continental shelf and exclusive economic zone is vested in the government of the Federation of Nigeria.’

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