Dyepkazah Shibayan, Abuja
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara on Monday disclosed that the National Assembly will soon begin work on its own version of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
In a press statement signed by the speaker’s special adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan, stated that the decision of the National Assembly to draw up its own version of the bill was reached because of the urgent need to reform the oil and gas sector.
The speaker, who made this known while receiving the international board of Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) at the National Assembly on Monday, also said the bill, which has gone into its final stages, will be given expeditious consideration on the floor of the two chambers of the National Assembly.
Dogara also informed the delegation that in line with the resolve of the House of Representatives to fully work with President Muhammadu Buhari to implement reforms in the oil, gas and mining sectors, the House is giving priority attention to its legislative business.
“We have repeatedly, especially my humble self, have repeatedly called on the executive to present reform proposals in the petroleum sector.
“However, we may not continue to wait for an executive bill on this subject matter as we are prepared to introduce the National Assembly’s version; what we believe should be the legal framework for the oil and gas sector in Nigeria.”
“We cannot continue to take the blame for non passage of the petroleum reform legislation in Nigeria. As I speak with you, work on our own version has reached advanced stage and hopefully, we hope to introduce it in both chambers of the National Assembly.
“If it happens that the executive transmits its own version of its own vision of the oil sector, we have ample provision in the House Rules for us to merge the two together. We will not continue to wait, “Dogara said.
He explained that the legislature is determined to ensure that resource curse syndrome is reversed in the country as a situation where there is so much poverty in the midst of abundant resources is unacceptable.
Expressing the desire of the House to partner with EITI, he said it will, starting from the first quarter of this year, begin the consideration and debate of the NEITI’s extractive industry audit report on the floor of the House as this will help to actualise the 8th Assembly’s desire to be more thorough with its oversight functions, especially in the oil and gas sectors.
He further directed the committees on Petroleum (Upstream) and Rules and Business to introduce and schedule the report for debate before the end of this quarter.
Earlier, the acting executive secretary of NEITI, Mr Orji Ogbonanya Orji, who accompanied the incoming chairman of EITI and former prime minister of Sweden, Mr Fedrick Reinfeldt stressed the need to fight the resource curse the country is presently faced with, which is the sole purpose for which the agency was created.
In his remarks, Reinfeldt commended Nigeria for being one of the first African nations to key into EITI, while harping on the need for transparency and prudent use of natural resources.