By Haruna Salami
As the stage is set for the presentation of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, the leadership of the National Assembly has expressed determination to break the jinx associated with the bill by ensuring passage of the bill.
This was disclosed by the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila at a crucial meeting of the leadership of the National Assembly with the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Silva, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari and some other top officials in the Petroleum sector.
The meeting was essentially to brief the National Assembly leaders on the focus of the PIB which the Senate President confirmed was forwarded to the Assembly about two weeks ago.
The bill has not been read at the floor of either of the two Chambers of the National Assembly because the federal Lawmakers are currently on recess but will resume session on Tuesday.
“The PIB is said to be jinx actually for a long time. Probably from 2007 to 2019,” Lawan said in his opening remarks.
“It’s either the bill or bills were sponsored by the Executive and not passed by the Legislature as was the case in 2007, 2011 in the 6th and 7th Assembly.
“In the 8th Assembly, the Legislature sponsored the bill, breaking it down to about three, passed it, but there was no assent.
“Now the bill is an executive bill coming to the National Assembly. The two chambers promise that we will break that jinx.
“We want to see an oil industry in Nigeria that is properly regulated, an oil industry that not only sustains the investment that we have but attract even more investment, an oil industry that is very competitive.
“So the Ninth Assembly wants to work with you, have a very clear understanding of every provision so that, at the end of the day, we will break that jinx together with you and provide the oil industry a legislation that will make more effective and efficient at the end of the day.
“I imagine that by tomorrow (Tuesday) when the communication to the House, communication to the Senate will be read, then it will be before the two chambers of the National Assembly,” Lawan said.
Also Speaking in the same vein, Gbajabiamila was confident that the ninth National Assembly will break the jinx and pass the bill speedily.
“The Bill has been long in the making for several years but I believe this is the session in which it will pass.
“We will pass this Bill speedily, however its passage will not sacrifice thoroughness on the alter of speed because it will be in the nation’s best interest.
“In the House of Representatives, we have assembled a crack team of legislators who are versed in the workings of the industry. It is an Ad-hoc Committee drawn from the House Committees on oil, upstream, downstream, local content and gas.
“So there is a crack team that will be working with you as we are all trying to go to the same destination.
“Talking about passing it speedily, unfortunately it is coming at the time when it will be competing with the passage of the budget,” Gbajabiamila said.
The Speaker described the bill as “perhaps the most important piece of legislation that will come out from National Assembly in the lifetime of this government.
“It is a most important piece of legislation because we all know what oil represents in terms of our economy. Everyone has been waiting for the arrival of the PIB.
“That is the legislations that is on the lips of every Nigerian whether he knows anything about petroleum or not. It is the most popular and most common Bill. Everybody talks about PIB because oil represents the life wire of our State. That underscores the importance of this Bill,” Gbajabiamila said.
In his remarks, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Silva said “the PIB aims at taking care of the interest of the host communities and making Nigeria an investment destination”.