Senate Says Petroleum Industry Bill Forms Part Of Its Legislative Agenda And Assures On Quick Passage If Brought Back As Executive Bill
Senate yesterday made a firm promise not to fail on the consideration and passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) contrary to what was witnessed in the 6th and 7th Senate, as well as the National Assembly.
Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, while inaugurating the additional eleven standing committees of the Senate, added that the passage of the PIB is very necessary for adequate reforms in the nation’s oil and gas sector.
Saraki, who hinted that the Senate had adopted the PIB as one of its legislative agenda added that the legislature was already working with the executive towards getting the bill passed quickly.
“The oil and gas industry remains the lifeblood of the Nigerian economy. The industry is going through a downturn period, which presents also the
opportunity for us to reform the local industry to meet with changing times.
“Attempts in the last to reform the industry through the Petroleum Industry Bill have not been able to go full circle for variety of reasons, the 8th Senate and by extension, 8th National Assembly is ready to tackle with all sense of patriotism,” he said. He, therefore, charged the Petroleum Upstream, Petroleum Downstream and Gas committees to immediately swing into action so as to make the quick passage of the bill possible just as he informed that the Senate would, in a matter of weeks, begin consideration of the first seething of bills on the petroleum industry reforms.
According to him, the chairmen and members of the committees were carefully chosen to help the upper house complete the reform process that will make the nation’s oil and gas industry more adaptive to international best practices.
“The Senate expects that you pay very good attention to these bills and treat them with dispatch so that we can quickly move towards the implementation of the reforms, which have become long overdue,” he stressed.
He added that by the committees’ inauguration, the senate has begun the full implementation of its vision to make laws that will impact positively in the lives of Nigerians.
Other committees inaugurated by the Senate president are Petroleum Upstream; Petroleum Downstream; Gas; Education (Basic and Secondary); Women Affairs; Employment, Labour and Productivity; Establishment and Public Service; Culture and Tourism; Special Duties; and States and Local Government Affairs, respectively. It would also be recalled that Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara had said the PIB is key to Nigeria’s economy.
Specifically, Dogara 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.
He had also called on the Minister of Petroleum, President Muhammadu Buhari, to urgently forward a fresh copy of the bill to it for quick consideration and possible passage.
Dogara who spoke at a recent 2-day event, said though the PIB has had a checkered history of consideration and passage in the National Assembly during the 6th and 7th Assembly, 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.
Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday said it would not question Petroleum Minister, Muhammadu Buhari, over lingering scarcity of petrol in the country.
Instead, it mandated its committee petroleum to conduct full scale examination of all issues associated with
current scarcity of petroleum products supply and distribution,.
The Upper House declared that though the president is now in charge of the industry, it would not summon
him to answer question on the goings on in the industry.