House of Representatives yesterday started the clause-by-clause consideration of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB and got stuck on the ownership of oil blocks.
Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, had last week, announced that they would consider and possibly pass the much-awaited PIB this week.
Sequel to this, copies of the report was circulated to lawmakers to study.
It would be recalled that on March 12, 2015, the Ad hoc Committee on PIB chaired by the House Majority Whip, Hon. Ishaka Bawa, finally laid its report on the floor of the House.
The committee recommended competitive biddings for the award of oil licenses and leases and explained that the rationale behind the competitive biddings for the award of oil blocs were discretionary.
At yesterday’s plenary, the House went into Executive Session shortly after the Speaker, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal approved Tuesday’s votes and proceedings.
The House returned to plenary after 45 minutes and went straight into the PIB report.
Hon. Bawa was called upon to move the motion for the consideration of the report. The motion was seconded by Hon. Abba Terab.
House Leader, Hon. Mulikat Akande-Adeola moved that the House should revert to the Committee of the Whole to consider the report.
The clause-by-clause consideration commenced at exactly 1:48pm and was chaired by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha.
Ihedioha announced that the report was a 368-page document with 312 sections and called on the ad-hoc committee chairman to give the House a brief synopsis.
Giving an insight into the report, Bawa said the committee recommended the removal of Section 191 of the Bill, which gives the President discretionary powers to grant petroleum licenses.
The lawmaker also hinted that 80 per cent of the power given to the Minister of Petroleum Resources in the original bill had been removed.
He said the committee scrutinised 363 sections and annexure of the original bill and made some amendments and recommendations.
He also pointed out that the public hearings conducted by the 23-member ad-hoc committee in all the geo-political zones provided opportunities for stakeholders to make their contributions to the bill.
Clause Two, which talks about ownership of oil blocks, was stepped down due to some technicalities.
While some argued that the committee’s recommendation was a mere duplication of what was already in the constitution, others insisted it did not violate any constitutional provision.
House Deputy Majority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor, had argued that Clause Two of the report was a duplication of Section 44 (3) of the constitution.
In his submission, Hon Albert Sam-Tsokwa said they cannot resolve constitutional provision in an act.
But Hon. Uzo Azubuike, a member of the ad-hoc committee, said the recommendation did not violate any constitutional provision.
Hon. Uzoma Abonta, also a member of the ad-hoc committee, insisted that there was no inconsistency in the report.
Sensing the direction some members were going in their contributions, the Deputy Speaker warned lawmakers to be careful on the PIB so that they don’t use constitutional provision to slow down the bill.
He also cautioned members against over politicising it.
The Committee on Rules and Business was subsequently directed to look at the clause and advise the House accordingly.
“There is no doubt that clause two is a repetition of the constitution. Therefore, we should step it down so that the relevant committee will guild the House accordingly.
“We should be careful on the PIB so that we don’t use constitutional provision to slow down the bill. We should not over-politicise it, Ihedioha cautioned.
Nigerian Pilot recalls that in its resolution of November 15, 2012, the House constituted an ad hoc committee on PIB with the mandate to look into the bill and make recommendations to the House on how to pass the bill into an act that will provide for legal and regulatory framework for the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry.
The bill, which covered salient areas, is to ensure the establishment of the Petroleum Equalisation Fund and incorporation of National Gas Company.
Others are the establishment of Petroleum Directorate and National Asset Management Company as well as imposition of new tax regime such as Nigeria Carbon Tax.
The consideration of the report continues today.

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