The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) on Tuesday passed through for second reading at the House of Representatives after being dogged by controversies among lawmakers several years after its submission by the Executive for passage.
Precisely, the PIB was initiated by the Executive Arm of government about 18 years ago to promote transparency in the nation’s hydrocarbon resources industry and by implication, stimulate the nation’s economic growth by attracting investors into the sector.
After near two decades of its conception and submission by the Executive to the National Assembly, the House of Representatives yesterday debated its general principle and unanimously passed it.
The House Leader, Hon. Alhasan Ado Doguwa, while introducing the amended Bill at plenary yesterday recalled that deliberations on the Bill started in the 6th Assembly.
He said: “Unfortunately, this bill has not been able to see the light of day. Whatever controversies surrounding the bill, the bill is now before us. It is my hope that members will look at this bill.”
Similarly the Minority Leader, Hon. Ndidi Elumelu said that if the PIB is passed, it will stop Nigeria’s planned importation of fuel from the Niger Republic and aligned his voice to the House Leader’s for the passage of the Bi;;
The lawmaker expatiated: “I rise to support that this PIB. The bill is long overdue. The essence is to remove some uncertainties. The essence is to institutionalize the ease of doing business. If passed, the bill will institutionalize good governance and ease of doing business. It will attract investors if passed fast. Our 4 refineries are bad.
“That’s why we import from Niger when we are supposed to be giving to Niger. We should be giving Niger and not us importing from Niger. We need to pass this PIB as soon s possible”, he said.
Joining the House leaders’ stance on the imperative of passing the PIB, the Deputy Minority Leader, Hon Toby Okechukwu said the bill would help in current efforts to reverse the recessionary trend of the nation’s economy.
He said: “If PIB will cure the fact that Nigeria imports petroleum products from Niger republic, I am for it. If Nigeria has four refineries that are not functioning, if the PIB will cure it, I am for it. If the opportunity we had in the 70s, 80s will come back, I am for it.
“If we pass the Electoral bill and also PIB, I will say that we have done a wonderful job. We should pay attention to this bill. We should make sure that all the landmines that will come along the way should be jettisoned”, the lawmaker added.
Other lawmakers also made contributions on the desirability of the passage of the bill in national interest.
The speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, in his ruling on the passage of the bill, committed it to the Ad-hoc Committee on PIB which has scheduled its inaugural meeting to hold tomorrow (Wednesday).
It would be recalled that the Bill was changed to the “Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) and simultaneously passed in both chambers of the National Assembly in January 2018.
However, due to the major changes in the provisions from the version that was presented by the Executive to the Legislature, President Muhammadu Buhari declined assent to the PIGB on the grounds of what he termed anomalies, particularly the reduction of Powers of the Minister of Petroleum over Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, amongst others.
The President’s refusal to assent the Bill subsequently led to its return to the National Assembly for reconsideration.