The Senate Thursday pledged to devote special attention to the lingering and controversial Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) upon its resumption next Tuesday.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Ita Enang, who disclosed this at a press briefing in Abuja, also remarked that due attention would be given to the report on Dana Air Crash, fuel subsidy probe, Public Procurement Act as well as 2013 budget of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
He dismissed insinuations that some local and international forces were bent on killing the PIB, adding that all issues raised in the media concerning the bill would be duly considered when debate for second reading of the bill begins in the House.
Enang who described the outgone year 2012 as eventful for the upper legislative chamber, evaded questions bordering on insinuations that the Senate had been under pressure to kill the PIB.
Instead, the lawmaker insisted that PIB would be one of the top priorities of the Senate as soon as it reconvenes next week.
“You will see it in the notice paper when we publish it. A bill sees the light of day when it is listed on the floor of the Senate to be considered. “So, the contributions that are being made by senators intend to heighten interest in the bill, enlighten the public more and we also thank the media for their contributions. All these, we will take account of when considering the bill for second reading,” Enang said.
While disclosing what he described as achievements of the Senate last year, Enang said. a total of 163 new bills were presented and considered in 2012.
On whether or not the executive submitted the budget of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Enang said:”I had mentioned earlier that the president submitted to all of us and to the National Assembly along with the National budget, the budget of the statutory corporations.
“And this is one of the things we will give priority to as we resume. And budget of SEC and others are contained here. What we said in that clause of the bill which we have forwarded is that there should not be any implementation except as would be approved. Just an emphasis.”
The House of Representatives had refused to pass the 2013 budget of SEC following their resolution which called for the sack of the SEC Director General, Ms Arunma Oteh. Of the 163 bills, Enang said 25 of them were executive bills adding that a total of 32 bills scaled the second reading and consequently referred to relevant committees.
According to him, five of the bills including the 2013 Appropriation Bill, National Automotive Council Act (Repeal) and Re-enactment Bill 2012; Terrorism Act (Amendment) Bill 2012 as well as Prisons Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2012, were duly passed into law.
He also explained that a total of 15 resolutions were passed within the period under review, arguing that passage of the bills and resolutions was a demonstration of Senate’s commitment to the development of critical sectors of the nation’s economy, security of lives and property as well as prisons decongestion.
Other issues that were given utmost priority, according to Enang, included the report on probe of petroleum subsidy; report on the crash of Dana and Allied Aircraft; Education (National Minimum Standards Establishment Institutions) Act Bill, 2012; Federal Universities of Agriculture Act (Amendment)Bill, 2012 and University of Lagos Act (Amendment) Bill 2012.
Others bills he listed were Federal Universities of Technology Act (Amendment) Bill, 2012; Public Procurement Act No. 14 2004 Amendment Bill, 2012; Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes, Genocide and Related Offences Bill, 2012; Nigeria Police Reform Trust Fund Bill, 2012; National Economic Intelligence Committee Act (Repeal) Bill 2012, FCT Appropriation Bill and NDDC 2013 Appropriation.
On the nature of the bills, he said: “What you have there are executive bills, not members’ bill. There is another document containing senators’ bill. We had to draw a distinction. Most of them have been passed and when we pass them, we forward them to the House of Representatives for concurrence.
“Remember that in the case of the nine universities, we set up a conference committee, but our colleagues and brothers in the house of representatives were yet to set up theirs but I believe they would have set it up and we are working on reconciling the differences in the bills so they can be passed.
“Remember that some days ago the FEC met and approved three new universities which bills would soon be presented to the National Assembly. We would be working in such a manner as to perhaps avoid a situation where the three new universities come to join the ones already with us. So, definitely, they were passed by us but we are waiting for conference reports,” he added.