Executive Orders: Expert Advocates Increased Synergy between FG, Regulatory Agencies in Oil and Gas Sector

Gloria Iroegbunam, General Manager, Legal and Company Secretary at LEKOIL Nigeria Limited.

There is an urgent need for increased synergy and cooperation in the Nigerian energy, oil & gas sector in order to improve productivity and ramp up investments across the entire value chain. This call was made by Gloria Iroegbunam, General Manager, Legal and Company Secretary at LEKOIL Nigeria Limited, noting that Executive Orders would have far-reaching positive implications if all actors were pulling in the same direction.

“The petroleum industry stands as the backbone of the Nigerian economy, drawing substantial offshore and domestic investments. However, a significant challenge lies in the regulatory bureaucracy that often hampers smooth operations and investment flows. The overlapping responsibilities among various regulatory agencies further complicate matters, creating an intricate web of administrative hurdles. In light of these challenges, the Nigerian government’s efforts to streamline these processes through Executive Orders are commendable, but the practical efficacy of these orders warrants deeper examination,” Iroegbunam stated in the piece titled Practical Efficacy of Executive Orders in the Nigerian Petroleum Industry.

While urging the government to ensure the elimination of legal boundaries and regulatory constraints, she submitted: “A fundamental aspect of implementing Executive Orders lies in their legal standing. Executive Orders are directives from the President that aim to manage operations within the federal government. However, their scope is inherently limited when they attempt to override or alter statutory regulations. In Nigeria, many regulatory processes within the petroleum industry are backed by laws enacted by the National Assembly.”

According to her, this is to forestall legal disputes arising from the power and reach of such executive orders as it happened in 2019 when a Federal High Court ruling negated the impact of executive orders without legislative backing.

“For Executive Orders to achieve their intended purpose, especially in the context of the petroleum industry, there must be a candid collaboration between the government and regulatory bodies. These agencies are the custodians of the administrative processes that Executive Orders seek to streamline. Their involvement ensures that the orders are not only feasible but also practically enforceable. Moreover, engaging regulators in the drafting and implementation phases can pre-empt potential conflicts with existing statutory mandates, thereby enhancing the orders’ effectiveness,” the legal expert, whose involvement in the oil and gas industry goes back several years, added.

In noting the dynamic nature of the petroleum industry along with changing market conditions and evolving technology, Iroegbunam is of the view that widening the stakeholder engagement framework is the best approach towards reducing regulatory overlaps, aligning structures and improving operations.

“The Nigerian government’s use of Executive Orders to streamline regulatory processes in the petroleum industry is a step in the right direction. However, the practical efficacy of these orders hinges on their alignment with statutory regulations and the active collaboration of regulatory agencies. By reducing regulatory overlaps, developing flexible governance frameworks, and engaging stakeholders, the government can create a more efficient and investor-friendly environment. Ultimately, these efforts will not only enhance the attractiveness of the Nigerian petroleum industry but also contribute to the broader economic development of the country,” she concluded.

Comment here