James Emejo in Abuja
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, yesterday hinted that the remaining parts of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) would be passed by the lower chamber before it embarks on its annual recess around July.
He said: â€œBefore we break for our annual recess, we will be done with these bills.â€
Dogara added that the hitherto complex PIB had been unbundled into four components including the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), which had since been passed by both chambers of the National Assembly and awaiting the assent of President Muhammadu Buhari.
However, the other three components of the PIB namely; a bill for an Act to establish a Fiscal Framework that encourages further investment in the petroleum industry while increasing accruable revenues to the Federal Government of Nigeria; a bill for an Act to provide for a framework relating to petroleum producing host communitiesâ€™ participation, cost and benefit sharing among the government, petroleum exploration communities and petroleum host communities and for related matters and the Petroleum Industry Administration Bill, 2018 are at various stages of consultation and consideration.
Declaring a public hearing on Petroleum Industry Reform Bills open, the Speaker said the PIB would enable Nigeria to operate at standards and levels of efficiency expected of a 21st century oil and gas industry.
He said as it currently stands, even the government recognises that the industry can no longer meet its aspirations and those of key stakeholders.
Dogara noted: â€œYou are all aware that the oil and gas industry reform has been a critical issue before the House of Representatives since 2009 when the PIB was first transmitted to this House as an Executive Bill for legislative consideration.
â€œThe major reason for the reform, which remains even more valid today, is that the petroleum industry in Nigeria is not operating at standards and levels of efficiency expected of a twenty first century oil and gas industry. Government recognises that the industry can no longer meet its aspirations and those of key stakeholders.â€
The speaker regretted that the sixth and seventh National Assemblies grappled with but failed to conclude legislative consideration of the PIB.
Continuing, he said: â€œThis, in my opinion, was as a result of insufficient consultations, weak ownership of the bill, absence of requisite political will as well as the extremely divergent and competing views of the government and other major stakeholders on the provisions of the bill.
â€œHowever, at the National Assembly, the most important set back was that the PIB was difficult to handle by the relevant committees because it was a massive and complex document that was to repeal and re-enact almost all our petroleum laws into a holistic legislation. Because of its sheer size and complexity, the bill was difficult to consider by the legislative committees in both chambers.
â€œThe implications of the delay in concluding the oil and gas industry reform which commenced since the year 2000 has been very colossal for our country running into several billions of dollars that would have accrued to Nigeria and our economy coupled with the loss of our erstwhile continental competitiveness.â€
He, however, assured Nigerians that despite the setbacks experienced in the past, the eighth National Assembly, especially the House of Representatives, would ensure that the bill passes because completion of the oil and gas industry reform is one of its cardinal legislative objectives.
Dogara added: â€œTodayâ€™s event is in keeping with our covenant with Nigerians to lay to rest this difficult but surmountable challenge that has been the bent of our oil and gas industry. To ensure a thorough and expedited conclusion of the reform, this House decided to split the reform bills into logical smaller bills. This way, the individual bills can be expeditiously considered and passed one after the other.â€
Chairman, House Committee on PIB, Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa, said the passage of the bill would help petroleum industry flourish again when passed.