17 September 2014, Abuja – The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, gave marching orders to the committees of the House handling critical bills and other assignments on Tuesday to produce their reports within 21 days.
One of the reports is on the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill, which has yet to come out 19 months after an ad-hoc committee was inaugurated to work on it.
The 23-member Bawa committee was named in December 2012 and inaugurated in March 2013.
It conducted public hearings on the PIB in the six geopolitical zones of the country with a grand finale held in Abuja.
Two issues – the alleged “awesome powers” the bill conferred on the Minister of Petroleum Resources, and opposition by oil majors – dominated discussions at the hearings.
A North-South divide among the lawmakers and a reported poor funding of the committee, were said to have “compounded the intrigues and interests delaying the passage of the PIB.”
But, as lawmakers reconvened in Abuja on Tuesday after observing a 60-day annual recess, Tambuwal said that the PIB would be one of the main issues on the table.
He directed the Bawa committee and all other committees handling important assignments to produce their reports within 21 days.
In a speech to welcome his colleagues back from the break, the Speaker charged them to redouble their efforts to serve the country.
He noted that the commitment of the legislators was more needed now at a time of serious security challenges in the country and the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease.
Tambuwal said, “I note with satisfaction that some committees to which certain critical bills were referred used the period of the recess to expedite work on those referrals.
“I hope that those reports will be laid early to facilitate the early passage of these bills, and of course, that includes the report on the PIB.
“Given the limited time at our disposal against our resolve to conclude work on the bills, whose passage time is of essence, all committees working on such bills are hereby mandated to ensure that their reports are laid within 21 days.”
– The Punch