By Udora Orizu
The Speaker of the House of Representatives Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has stated that the House is determined to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) within the next six months.
Gbajabiamila, who hosted a delegation of the Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the House would ensure that it passed a PIB that would be satisfactory to all.
He said: ‘’On the PIB, there are two things that the House would want to do. First, the House is determined to pass the bill within the next six months, or probably less, because the clock has already started running from the time it was presented. Two, the House is determined to pass a PIB that is satisfactory to all. I know it’s difficult to satisfy everybody, but we will try our best to satisfy everybody.’’
Gbajabiamila also said that the House would ensure that it carried all stakeholders along in working on the draft legislation until its passage.
He urged members of the OPTS led by their Chairman, Mr Mike Sangster, to avail themselves the opportunity they have at hand to reach out to the House Adhoc Committee on PIB to make their inputs.
The Speaker, however, expressed concern over the submission by Sangster that the PIB in its present form would not make the Nigerian oil and gas industry competitive globally.
He said: ‘’The PIB has been long coming. Because of various interests, it’s difficult to pass a bill that addresses the interests of everyone. But the PIB luckily will involve local content. I’m very concerned about what you said that the PIB as it is doesn’t allow Nigeria to compete favourably in the global market. We’re not competitive, yet there’s the presence of oil majors here. We need to look at it, but I think it will be difficult to tell members that we should go back to the old arrangement that we had.’
“I need to ask where you were when they were making this law? Your inputs should have been there. It’s never too late for you to have your inputs. I’m sure the committee will do justice to the other issues you raised.”
Earlier, Sangster noted that in the past years, the African continent attracted about $70 billion of investment in the oil and gas industry but that only about $3billion came to Nigeria despite being a major player continentally.
The OPTS chairman responded in the affirmative when the Speaker sought to know from him if the PIB had any positives, noting that the PIB represented the much-needed reforms in the sector.
He however said that in its present form, the bill would not provide the environment for future investments.
He urged the House to reach out to other sources to have a better analysis of the PIB.