OrderPaperToday – The Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr. Timipre Sylva, and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari, failed to show up for the 2021 budget defence held by House of Representatives joint Committees on Petroleum Upstream, Downstream and Gas.
This happened on Monday amidst a scramble for seats by members of the committees to engage with the key government agencies charged with regulating the live-wire of the economy.
Both men had earlier acknowledged they would be appearing before the joint Committees to present its 2021 budget but kept the chairmen of the Committees on Petroleum Downstream, Upstream, and Gas, Abdullahi Gaya (APC, Kano), Musa Sarkin Addah (APC, Sokoto) and Mr. Nicholas Mutu (PDP, Delta) respectively.
Dramatically, some lawmakers who are members of the joint House committee on Petroleum (Upstream, Downstream) and Gas Resources, and numbering more than 50 were falling over themselves to grab every available seat on the podium awaiting the officials who never turned up.
The meeting was initially scheduled for 2pm within the National Assembly complex but could not hold again as members waited in vain.
This was due to the fact that the joint committee did not extend invitation to the House Press Corps regarding the budget defence session as it is customary with committees of the House.
Getting into the room 028 venue of the meeting, it was observed that the portion meant for members was already packed full with lawmakers waiting patiently for the invitees to show
OrderPaper Nigeria noticed that two members were sharing a seat which is unprecedented. With the overwhelming attendance by the members, the sitting position reserved for them became over populated, forcing many lawmakers to spill out of the allotted sitting spaces.
Another unusual situation was the fact that members were already sitted before the arrival of the agencies, a rare somersault of precedence.
Having noticed that colleagues were no longer comfortable with the situation, the lead committee chairman, Sarkin-Addah took the initiative to address his colleagues.
“My dear honourable colleagues, we have been here today for the budget defence of petroleum with the minister who said he was summoned to the Villa by Mr. President.
“Sitted by my right is my elder brother and leader, Hon. Nicholas Mutu, chairman Gas, and to my immediate left is my younger brother but leader in the House, Hon. Abdullahi Mahmoud Gaya, chairman Upstream.
“We have been here for more than 45 minutes (immediately disputed by colleagues who said they had been sitted for more than an hour)…up till now, the minister who confirmed to all 3 chairmen of his willingness to appear is not here.
“Although he called a while ago to say that he was summoned to the villa by Mr. President, and it is our belief he’s still with Mr. President.
“Given the circumstance, I want to suggest that we adjourn the meeting sine dine pending when the minister is ready to make appearance”, Sarkin-Adda said, just as lawmakers concurred by saying “carried”, in unison.
However, this is not the first time Mr. Sylva would refuse to honour invites from the House regarding issues affecting agencies under his ministry.
The minister is the symbolic figure for the industry reforms encapsulated in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and has a responsibility to maintain cordial relations with the parliament.