By Udora Orizu
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, on Wednesday assured Nigerians that the parliament will pass the long awaited Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law in April this year.
The Speaker gave the assurance while delivering his remarks at the public hearing organized by the House Ad hoc Committee on PIB at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja.
He said despite the position of any vested interest, the parliament will ensure that it protects the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Gbajabiamila said though the PIB has been in the National Assembly for decades without much success, the 9th Assembly would ensure that it passes it into law by April.
While agreeing that it was a national consensus that there should be a comprehensive reform of the oil and gas industry, he however bemoaned a situation where the oil industry under performs its potential and national expectations.
Gbajabiamila said: ”This bill has been long coming. It has been upcoming in the last 20 years. Because of contending and vested interests, we have not been able to reach the desired outcome over the years. A lot of work has gone into the preparation of this Bill, but it’s not strait-jacketed. We intend to pass this Bill by April. That is a commitment we have made. Some may call it a tall order, but we will do it, and we will do it with every sense of responsibility without compromising the thoroughness of the work that will be done.
“For the most part, we all agree on the need for legislative action to make improvements through statutory and regulatory reform. Therefore, it is disappointing and frankly difficult to explain how successive governments have failed to deliver on the promise of reform despite this broad agreement. Ladies and gentlemen, we have an opportunity and an obligation to do better, and we will.
“We are not oblivious to the fact of many contending interests in this sector. These contentions do not need to result in conflict, especially when we know the objective of national prosperity benefits us all. Therefore, the process of engaging with stakeholders will continue beyond this public hearing to accommodate the diversity of interests and ensure all critical views form part of the deliberations that inform the final legislation.”
Also speaking, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, expressed joy that after 20 years of its introduction to the National Assembly, both the Senate and the House have shown sustained determination to pass the bill into law.
Similarly, the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Mr. Mele Kyari, offered a glimpse of hope that oil will still be relevant in the next 30 years.
He said the passage of the bill into law will bring about the needed vigour and transparency that would in turn engender productivity in the petroleum industry.
On his part, the Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mohammed Nami, said the bill when passed into law, will promote economic growth and make the petroleum sector competitive.