Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
The Deputy Majority Leader, House of Representatives, Hon. Peter Akpatason representing Akoko-Edo federal constituency, Edo State, has said that some powerful forces benefitting from a dysfunctional oil and gas sector of the economy are behind the high level politics responsible for the non-passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Akpatason, who made the assertion at the weekend when members of the House of Representatives press corps paid him a courtesy visit, said if government is truly committed to the passage of the bill, lawmakers in the National Assembly and the executive must work together to produce an acceptable draft of the legislation.
The lawmaker, who has a very rich background in the oil sector and also from an oil producing state, when fielding questions from journalists on what the intention of the ninth assembly is on the PIB designed to reposition the oil sector, increase government revenue from oil and put in place legal and regulatory frameworks for the sector, said it is important to de-politicise the bill if it must see the light of the day.
According to Akpatason, who noted that the “PIB Bill is the most politicised in this assembly all the way from the seventh assembly when I joined,” the “PIB is such a highly politicised project all the way from the executive where it emanates and even right here in the National Assembly because there are a lot of contending factors – a lot of interests all over the place.”
He said: “The multinationals form a block of interest; in politics we have our various interests also. The refining block is another factor, the marketers another factor, transporters another big factor; a lot of people are benefitting from a dysfunctional oil and gas industry and these people are very powerful, highly entrenched interests – people that can manipulate anything possible in this country.
“And that is why you see that even in the drafts, come to the National Assembly you see elements of political twisting and then if you try to correct it at the level of committees and the rest of them, this interests still come to play.
“I believe that the only way that we can have PIB that will scale through without much delays is for the executive and the legislative arm of government to sit down together and get some experts to work out the best draft that we can get.”
Akpatason said: “One single PIB will not help the case because that was what actually scuttled it in the first place when we placed everything together and some of the provisions were not acceptable to the government and because of those few provisions they declined assent to that document.”