House of Representatives
By Onwuka Nzeshi
The House of Representatives Tuesday denied that it was under intense pressure from International Oil Companies (IOCs) to scuttle the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) currently pending before the two chambers of the National Assembly.
There have been speculations that the multinational oil firms operating in Nigeria have constituted a powerful lobby group to ensure that the PIB was not passed by the parliament.
The IOCs were said to have expressed discomfort over certain provisions in the bill which they claimed could discourage further investments in the oil and gas industry.
But the Chief Whip of the House and Chairman, Ad hoc Committee on PIB, Hon. Isiaka Bawa, said there has not been any pressure on his committee to dump the bill.
He stated this Tuesday at an interactive session convened to brief the media on the bill.
Bawa was joined at the meeting by other members of the committee including Minority Whip of the House, Hon. Samson Osagie and Hon. Ajibola Muraina, Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Resources, Upstream.
The ad hoc committee was constituted by the House in November last year after the bill scaled second reading.
Members of the committee recently held a retreat in Lagos where they met with various stakeholders including the oil multinationals.
Bawa confirmed that the oil multinationals had already submitted a memoranda to the committee in which they made general observations on the bill.
He, however, did not disclose how many memorandum it had received so far from the public.
Bawa said the committee had wanted to hit the ground running as soon as it came into being last year, it could not commence work until its formal inauguration a month ago.
The inauguration, Bawa said, was followed by a retreat in Lagos where members interacted with a wide range of stakeholders who gave their honest perspectives on the bill.
According to him, the committee left Lagos more informed and better prepared to work on the bill.
“Having interacted with the industry elites in Lagos, the committee now intends to take the process down to the grassroots so as to enhance consultations and broad-based participation. This is to be achieved through public hearings slated for the six geopolitical zones.
“Lagos will host the South-west public hearing, Port-Harcourt for the South-south and Enugu for the South-east. Kaduna is the centre for North-west, llorin for North-central while Gombe will host the North-east.
“The public hearings will also provide ample opportunity for state governments, state legislatures, professional/interest groups to participate in the crafting of a Petroleum Industry Legislation that will hold something for everybody,” Bawa said.
A glance at the programme showed that the zonal public hearings will be capped by a three-day public hearing in Abuja.
The Abuja hearing is intended to provide the final opportunity to the committee to collate the views of other stakeholders who might have been unwittingly left out of the zonal hearings.
At the conclusion of these hearings, the committee will move into the next stage of examining the bill in its entirety within the context of the preponderance of views collated at the public hearings and distilled from the memoranda to be submitted by the various stakeholders.
Bawa described the assignment as a onerous task considering the voluminous nature of the bill and the fact that the committee will have to examine it clause-by-clause, word-by-word, punctuation-by-punctuation.
He appealed to the media to assist the committee in accomplishing the task and producing a bill that will address the lapses in the oil industry.
He pledged that the committee will ensure that transparency and integrity was not compromised throughout the process.
He also said that the committee was united towards a common purpose and does not envisage any discordant tunes amongst its members.