National Assembly yesterday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency transmit a new Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB to it for early passage, saying the bill was key to the economic growth and development of the country.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, made the call at the opening ceremony of a two-day National Assembly Dialogue on Economy, Security and Development, organised by the National Institute of Legislative Studies, NILS in Abuja.
Dogara pointed out that the PIB which failed to scale through legislative process in the 6th and 7th National Assembly for reorganisation of the petroleum sector, would be passed by the 8th National Assembly.
He said: “We cannot meaningfully discuss the improvement of the national economy without discussing priority legislation in this field. Undoubtedly, one of the most important pieces of legislation is the Petroleum Industry Bill.
“This is necessary because oil and gas still accounts for over 70 per cent of our foreign exchange earnings in spite of the rapid fall in oil prices. We therefore cannot afford not to organise the sector in such a manner as to benefit the nation.
“In this regard, may I call on the President as the Minister of Petroleum to as a matter of urgency transmit a Bill to the National Assembly on how his administration intends to reorganise the Petroleum Sector.
“The PIB has had a chequered history. It was introduced late in the life of the 6th Assembly and was not passed. In the 7th Assembly, a private Members Bill was introduced in the first month of that Assembly, based on the experience of the 6th Assembly.
“However, the last administration informally indicated that it would prefer an Executive Bill on the matter, which took over two years to materialise. It was passed only by the House of Representatives very late in its tenure without the Senate concurring”, he stressed.
The Speaker further pointed out that investment decisions in this field cannot continue to wait, saying “Clarity on the legal framework for oil and gas in Nigeria is crucial to our economy.
“Contrary to the assertion that the size of the Bill is the problem, the fact is that an early introduction will lead to an early passage”, Dogara added.
He expressed the National Assembly’s readiness to partner with the Executive arm of government by passing laws that would ensure positive and sustainable change.
He pledged that anti corruption legislation and over-sight would be the major contribution of parliament to the “change’’ that had come to Nigeria.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, said the dwindling government revenue was an opportunity for Nigeria to look inwards towards taking advantage of untapped economic opportunities for national development.
Saraki, who was represented by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, promised the legislature’s determination to addressing factors that had led to poor governance over the years.
He said factors like weak regulatory framework, obsolete laws and poor governance, that had contributed to slowing down the country’s growth and development would be adequately looked into.
Saraki added that the legislature would continue to contribute to an economic reform agenda aimed at expanding economic space for business, private sector involvement in infrastructure development as well as consumers’ rights protection.
“The Senate will work with the House to build a strong coalition, which seeks to layout an aggressive legislative pathway that will enable private sector capital creation and development of private sector resources.
“This is with a view to creating the necessary legal environment for private sector investment to thrive and participation in the infrastructure market as well as reduction of the high level of credit risk in the system’’, he said.
Director General of NILS, Dr (Mrs.) Ladi Hamalai said the institute felt it was time for major stakeholders to come together to chart a new course for the country.
She noted that as part of its mandate, the institute would continue to organise similar forum, where stakeholders would come together to proffer solutions to the country’s challenges.
“The institute felt it is important to organise this dialogue because the country is at a very critical stage.
“We now have a new government with an agenda for change and development and we feel itt is important to begin to dialogue on critical economic issues, political and security issues. This is part of the National Assembly’s contribution in the whole effort to give this country its pride of place,’’ she said.

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