President Goodluck Jonathan
By Onwuka Nzeshi
Barring any last minute hitches, the 2013 Appropriation Bill will be presented to a joint session of the National Assembly on October 4, 2012.
A letter from President Goodluck Jonathan to the National Assembly stated that the presentation will commence at 12 noon.
Speaker of the House, Hon Aminu Tambuwal, announced this at the commencement of proceedings Tuesday.
The presentation of the budget will hopefully lay to rest the growing fears that the budget might be delayed as in previous years.
Also Tuesday, the House merged a bill seeking to establish an oil exploration agency with the Petroleum Industry Bill.
The new bill is seeking to create an autonomous agency that will be saddled with the responsibility of discovering new oil deposits particularly in the northern parts of the country.
In specific terms, the bill tagged: “National New Frontier Exploration Agency,” is for the purpose of exploration and production of oil and gas in the frontiers of Chad basin, Dahomey basin, Imo basin, Benue trough, Bauchi basin and Sokoto basin.
Sponsor of the bill, Hon. Kaka Kyari Gujbawu (PDP, Borno), explained that the bill was conceived to ensure that the exploration of oil is extended beyond the Niger Delta.
The bill scaled the first reading in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, July 18, 2012.
However, when it was presented for second reading yesterday, Deputy House Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor (PDP, Delta), raised an observation that the bill cannot be treated in isolation when there is already the Petroleum Industry Bill pending before the House.
Ogor explained that the PIB which is before the House has a provision for a similar agency being proposed in the new bill.
The Speaker of the House ruled that the new piece of legislation should be kept in view for consolidation with the Petroleum Industry Bill.
Meanwhile the House has rejected an attempt to give constitutional backing to the six geo-political zones and make them another tier of government.
The lawmakers also kicked against the creation of another layer of Court Appeal to be known as state Court of Appeal.
The bill was designed to alter the 1999 Constitution by creation of State Court of Appeal, introduction of state legislative list and adjustment/modification of legislative powers of government between the federal and state governments.
Hon. Emmanuel Jimeh (PDP, Benue), sponsor of the bill, said the amendment was necessary for the nation to move forward but opponents of the bill said it would amount to a subversion of the country’s constitution and would destabilise the existing federal system of government.