The 36 state governments will today (Thursday) at the Federation Account and Allocation Committee meeting review the Petroleum Industry Bill, which was signed into law on Monday by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), The PUNCH has learnt.
A top official of the Federal Ministry of Finance, who confided in one of our correspondents on Wednesday, said the state governments had put the ministry on notice that they would state their grievances with the Petroleum Industry Act at the FAAC meeting.
Ahead of the FAAC meeting, the Nigerian Bar Association advised the state governors to challenge the Act in court.
The FAAC consists of the Minister of Finance as chairman, all state commissioners of Finance, state accountants-general, Accountant-General of the Federation and the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance, who is the secretary.
It meets monthly to share revenues among the federal, state and local governments.
There was a report on Wednesday that before the President signed the PIB, state governors had on August 10 written to ask him to withhold his assent.
According to the report, the governors argued that the Petroleum Industry Act would deny the states their fair share from the Federation Account because it favoured the Federal Government and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, which would transform into a limited liability company.
On Wednesday, a state official, who spoke to one of our correspondents, stated, “The governors have directed their commissioners for finance to get a copy of the Act signed by the President. Obviously, the law will top the agenda of the FAAC meeting on Thursday (today).
“State commissioners will raise the misgiving the states have about the law at the FAAC meeting and take a common position.”
When contacted, the Chairman, Forum of Commissioners of Finance, David Olofu, said members would meet and review the PIA.
Olofu, who is Benue State’s Commissioner for Finance, who spoke to one of our correspondents in Makurdi on the phone, confirmed that the FAAC meeting would be held today (Thursday).
He stated, “I am still trying to get to the crux of the Act so that I can review it; it is after I review it that I can make a statement. We are having the FAAC meeting tomorrow (Thursday); we will get the law and review it and then get back to you.”
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The Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, Rapulu Nduka, in an interview with The PUNCH, noted that people in different parts of the country had been making comments on the provisions of the PIA, adding that some of them were feeling short-changed.
He stated, “Lawmaking is one of the responsibilities of the legislature and since there are legislators from all states of the federation, then there should be proper representation.
“The purpose of having legislators from all states is that they should be able to debate laws before they are passed in order to ensure that those laws are made in the interest of every region.
“If the governors believe that some parts of the Act are unconstitutional, then by all means, let them approach the courts. They should go to court to challenge the aspects, which they believe are unconstitutional.”