The Senate on Tuesday cautioned the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, against making comments regarding the delay in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and his claim that the bill is an executive bill.
Kachikwu, while at the recent Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, was cited to have said the delay in the passage of the bill is due to a disagreement between the Senate and the House of Representatives
Senate spokesman, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, in a statement yesterday, said Kachikwuâ€™s statement showed ignorance of the workings of a bi-cameral legislature.
Abdullahi further noted that the PIB, a private member bill, which did not emanate from the executive arm of government, is currently in its final stages ahead of the plan to pass it before the second anniversary of the eighth assembly.
He added that the statement would give an impression to the international community that the executive and legislature are not on the same page regarding the PIB.
The statement reads in parts:
â€œIt is funny to read a report that the minister went to far away Houston to say that there was a disagreement between the Senate and House of Representatives over the PIB which has delayed its passage and that he has been speaking with the House to take the version of the bill being worked on by the Senate. The statement was unfortunate because the minister was only demonstrating lack of knowledge of how a bicameral legislature functions.â€
â€œFirst, one would have expected that such a critical bill aimed at reforming the oil sector which is the mainstay of the national economy would be a priority of the minister when he combined the post with that of being Managing Director of the NNPC. The current National Assembly started work on the bill when it waited for so many months without anything coming from the executive branch.
â€œAgain, it is not unusual for there to be differences in the contents of a bill on the same issue being worked on by the two chambers of the National Assembly. There is already an inbuilt legislative processes for reconciling the two versions of a bill through what is called harmonisation process by the conference committee of both chambers. So, there is no need for a minister to dabble into the process.â€
â€œKachikwu is just jumping into the issue at this point because he knew we will in the next few weeks pass the PIB and we think the remarks he made on the issue was an unnecessary diversion aimed at creating needless controversy.
â€œAs part of our own legislative agenda, we had decided long time ago that after the passage of 2017 budget, our next major assignment is to pass the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill and immediately fast-track the process of passage of the Host Community Bill and the Fiscal Regime Bills which are also related to the reforms of the petroleum sector,â€ the statement read.