From Segun Amure, (The New Diplomat’s Abuja Bureau)
The Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila on Wednesday, 27 January, expressed optimism to Nigerians that the National Assembly will pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into Law in April.
Speaking at the Public Hearing organised for the Bill, Gbajabiamila reiterated the importance of the Bill and the need to fast track the legislative process that surrounds its passage.
In his words: “We tend to pass this bill by April. That is the commitment we have made. Some may consider it a tall order. But we will do it without compromising the thoroughness,” Gbajabiamila said.
Also speaking on the importance of the passage of the bill, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Silva, expressed happiness 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.
However, the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan while declaring the public hearing open said, ‘’Let me say this, we (National Assembly) will pass this bill not without ensuring that it is a bill that satisfies certain conditions. Nigeria is blessed with these resources, we want Nigeria to benefit optimally from them. In fact, we are in a hurry because we have lost so many years of benefits that we could have had.’’
He added further that, “the mere knowledge that the nation’s oil industry is still being governed by laws enacted more than 50 years ago is ludicrous and extremely disappointing.”
‘’As legislators, we will strive to deliver a Bill that will enhance the growth of our oil and gas industry, modernize our fiscal system and enhance competitiveness, while creating harmony for all stakeholders. This is a promise we have made and that we shall achieve.’’ Lawan said.
Reacting to the development, the Group Managing Director, GMD of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mele Kyari said that, “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 also said, “the bill when passed into law will promote economic growth and make the petroleum sector competitive.”
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had on 28 September 2020, presented the PIB to the National Assembly for consideration.
PIB is an executive bill that seeks to introduce pertinent changes to the governance, administrative, regulatory and fiscal framework of the Nigerian oil and gas industry, in order to ensure transparency, strengthen the governing institutions and attract investment capital, among other objectives.
Recall that the PIB was first presented to the National Assembly in 2008. Years after its presentation, the Bill is yet to be enacted, and has led to increased uncertainty, hindering the flow of the desired investments to the Nigerian oil and gas sector.