The House of Representatives is picking up the Petroleum Industry Bill for a speedy consideration, its speaker, Yakubu Dogara, said Monday.
Mr. Dogara said the legislature found the initiative necessary after President Buhari’s administration repeatedly ignored calls to send an executive version of the bill.
The bill has remained stuck at the National Assembly since 2009 despite the huge impact experts said a petroleum industry law could have on Nigeria’s economy.
“I have on at least three different occasions publicly requested the executive to as a matter of urgency send an executive bill on its intended reforms in the petroleum sector,” Mr. Dogara said.
Mr. Dogara said he sought to prevent past occurrences whereby the executive sent in the legislation late, consequently depriving lawmakers the much-needed time to thoroughly consider such a humongous document.
Mr. Dogara said the house was considering members-sponsored bills that would help reform the oil and gas sector.
“It is deliberate that Section 44 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, apart from vesting the powers to make laws in the legislature, went further to clearly invest it with powers to make laws for the management of the oil and gas sector,” Mr. Dogara said.
“We had hoped to avoid the situation in the last two Assemblies where the PIB was sent to the National Assembly very late in its tenure, thereby guaranteeing failure to pass the bills.
“In the absence of an executive bill on the matter, two private member’s bills have now been introduced. We urge participants to familiarize themselves with these bills and make necessary inputs at the public hearing stage.
“We also hope that this summit will craft its own version of the PIB for the attention of the National Assembly, taking into consideration all the existing drafts and also the pending bills,” Mr. Dogara said.
Mr. Dogara denied media reports about the existence of an executive version of the PIB before the National Assembly, adding that lawmakers could no longer ignore the rot in the oil industry.
According to Nigeria Extractive Industry Initiative, NEITI, the PIB, if passed into law, would “strengthen the capacity of indigenous Nigerian companies in the oil and gas sector to compete with international oil companies in the search and acquisition of hydrocarbons in Nigeria. The measure was also intended to reduce exploitation in the sector and limit, to the barest minimum, Federal Government’s exposure to oil and gas exploration and production through joint venture operations”.
Bala Zaka, a petroleum engineer, welcomed the initiative of the National Assembly.