Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, yesterday described the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) as very key to the survival of the Nation’s economy, despite failing to scale through the legislative process in the 6th and 7th National Assembly for reorganisation of the petroleum sector.
This was even as the 8th National Assembly, at its ongoing Dialogue on Economy, Security and Development, called on the Minister of Petroleum, President Mohamnadu Buhari, to urgently forward a fresh copy of the bill to it for quick consideration and possible passage.
Making the call in his opening remarks at the 2-day event, Dogara said though the PIB has had a checkered history of consideration and passage in the National Assembly during the 6th and 7th Assembly, but the current 8th Assembly sees it as very key to the survival of the country’s economy. “We cannot meaningfully discuss the improvement of the national economy without discussing priority legislation in this field.
Undoubtedly, one of the most important pieces of legislation is the Petroleum Industry Bill. “This is necessary because oil and gas still accounts for over 70 percent of our foreign exchange earnings in spite of the rapid fall in oil prices.
We, therefore, cannot afford not to organise the sector in such a manner as to benefit the nation. “In this regard, may I call on the President, as the Minister of Petroleum, to, as a matter of urgency, transmit a bill to the National Assembly on how his administration intends to reorganise the petroleum sector. “The PIB has had a checkered history.
It was introduced late in the life of the 6th Assembly, and was not passed. “In the 7th Assembly, a private members bill was introduced in the first month of that Assembly, based on the experience of the 6th Assembly. However, the last administration informally indicated that it would prefer an executive bill on the matter, which took over two years to materialize. It was passed only by the House of Representatives very late in its tenure without the Senate concurring. “Investment decisions in this field cannot continue to wait.
Clarity on the legal framework for oil and gas in Nigeria is crucial to our economy. Contrary to the assertion that the size of the bill is the problem, the fact is that an early introduction will lead to an early passage,” Dogara said.
Also speaking in the same vein, the Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, pointed out that the National Assembly, through legislation, will address the various factors that have contributed enormously to slowing down the country’s growth and development, particularly in the petroleum sector.
-Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja