James Emejo in Abuja
The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) thursday scaled second reading in the House of Representatives without a single opposition from any member.
The Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, thereafter announced the composition of a newly created ad-hoc committee and referred the bill to it.
The committee is chaired by Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa and Hon. Victor Nwokolo as deputy chairman.
Essentially, the PIB will now be up for public hearing preparatory to its third reading, passage and concurrence with the Senate.
The House could not consider the PIB as a whole as earlier indicated, but rather dealth with the three components of the bill in parts-one after the other, beginning with the Petroleum Industry Governance (PIGB) framework); the Host Community Participation as well as the Legal and Regulatory Framework.
Though some members had raised concerns on the need to consider and pass the document as a whole instead of taking it in parts, however, Dogara reigned in their argument explaining that the decision to split the bill into sections followed the recommendations of experts who were of the view that taking it as a whole could be cumbersome to deal with as there are lots of issues around it- which had also contributed to the delayed passage in the past.
Nonetheless, the debate commenced with the bill for an Act to provide for the governance and institutional framework for petroleum Industry and to establish a fiscal framework that encourages further investment in the petroleum Industry while increasing accruable revenues to the Federal Government of Nigeria and for other related matters.
The bill which emanated from the Senate was moved by Hon. Pally Iriase and 11 others, including Hon. Victor Nwokolo, Hon. Iranola Joseph, and Hon. Agbedi Fredrick.
Leading the debate, Hon. Tahir Monguno said the PIGB seeks to unbundle the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) into various entities to enable it conform to international best practice in its operations, enhance ease of doing business and boost transparency in its dealings.
The second component. the bill for an act to provide for the framework relating to petroleum producing host communityâ€™s participation, cost and benefit sharing among the government, petroleum exploration companies and petroleum host communities and for other related matters was sponsored by Hon. Victor Nwokolo, Hon. Iranola Joseph and Hon. Agbedi Fredrick. It was likewise debated and passed.
Also, considered by the lower chamber was the bill and memorandum on legal and regulatory framework, institutions and regulatory authorities for the Nigerian petroleum Industry to establish guidelines for the operation of the upstream and downstream sectors and provide for the establishment of the legal and regulatory framework and authorities as well as guidelines for the operation of upstream and downstream sectors of the Nigeria petroleum industry and for connected purposes.
Hon. Abiodun Adeola (Oyo, APC) had enjoined members to set aside sentiments and pass the all important bill.
It could be deduced that the majority of lawmakers are keenly to having the oil sector legislation passed, so history could count them among the heroes which made it happen.