Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal last Tuesday gave the ad hoc committee on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), headed by Ishaka Bawa, a 21-day ultimatum to submit its report to the full house.
The speaker gave the directive at plenary session while declaring open the fourth legislative session of the 7th Assembly, as a PIB cash for passage allegation went around the National Assembly (NASS).
It had been alleged that the Ministry of Petroleum and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) were being asked for cash for the passage of the bill, an allegation the House has denied.
Reacting to the ultimatum given by the speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Innocent Edemhanria, programme/policy officer, African Network for Environment & Economic Justice (ANEEJ), said the directive was indication that the House of Representatives was making an effort to consider and pass the PIB before the expiration of the 7th National Assembly.
Edemhanria noted that the current House would be winding up soon and elections were just around the corner and that the House may also receive the 2015 budget from the Executive soon, so it was time to do serious work on any pending bill, such as the PIB.
“I am aware that a lot of work has been done already. The bill has passed through first and second reading and public hearing has also been concluded, even though there are issues with the way the exercise was conducted, especially the one done by the Senate.
He said the House should be encouraged to finally pass the bill, in spite of the previous failed effort.
“What we are interested in now is to see that the PIB is passed in the form that it will be of utmost benefit to the Nigerian economy and the people of Nigeria. Casting aspersion or discrediting any move by either the House of Reps or the Senate will not help the process at all.
“It seems to me like an indication that the bill will be passed and I think the National Assembly can achieve this before the end of their session in 2015, because as I said earlier, a lot of work has already been done. I don’t want to recall the fate suffered by the PIB when the bill could not be passed by the Sixth Assembly, despite repeated assurance from President Goodluck Jonathan, the minister of petroleum resources and key members of the National Assembly, but we are encouraged now by the progress so far made on the bill by the Seventh National Assembly, even though it has taken them such a long time to reach this stage.
“I urge the House of Representatives and even the Senate to sustain this progress that has been made so far, by expediting actions on the clause by clause consideration of the bill when it gets to that stage, preparatory to its final passage, so as to ensure that the bill is passed before the end of the Seventh Assembly.
“When the bill is finally passed, I expect President Jonathan to immediately assent to it, if contentious and selfish provisions are not smuggled into the bill at the point of final consideration. The way the bill was designed, implementation will take a long time, but certain provisions could be implemented immediately. So we expect the relevant agencies of government to move fast with the issue.