The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has expressed disappointment with the inability of successive administrations in the country to ensure the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law.
He said it was difficult to explain why the bill did not pass despite collective interest by all for the passage of the bill.
Mr Gbajabiamila stated this on Wednesday while declaring the public hearing on PIB open in Abuja.
The hearing was by the House Ad-hoc Committee on PIB.
The making of the PIB started in 2000 when former President Olusegun Obasanjo constituted the Oil and Gas Reform Committee (OGRC).
The PIB that resulted from the recommendations of the OGRC was first introduced to the National Assembly in the 6th Assembly, but was bedevilled by controversies.
The 8th Assembly was able to pass a part of the bill after it was broken down into three distinct bills, namely the Petroleum Industry and Governance Bill (PIGB), 2016; the Host Communities Entitlement and Protection Bill, 2016; and the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill.
The PIGB passed by the 8th National Assembly was rejected by President Muhammadu Buhari.
A harmonised bill was forwarded to the National Assembly in September 2020 and the House passed the bill for second reading in November 2020.
At the hearing, Mr Gbajabiamila also stated the oil sector is underperforming due to lack of a legislative framework to guide the sector.
“It is disappointing and frankly difficult to explain how successive governments have failed to deliver on the promise of reform despite this broad agreement,” the Speaker said.
“For a long time, we have known that this critical national industry underperforms its potential and our national expectations. For the most part, we all agree on the need for legislative action to make improvements through statutory and regulatory reform.”
The Speaker said the House will be willing to accommodate concerns and disagreements by players in the sector, adding that disagreement should not lead to conflict.
He said, “We are not oblivious to the fact of many contending interests in this sector. These contentions do not need to result in conflict, especially when we know the objective of national prosperity benefits us all.
“Therefore, the process of engaging with stakeholders will continue beyond this public hearing to accommodate the diversity of interests and ensure all critical views form part of the deliberations that inform the final legislation.”
Mr Gbajabiamila said the bill ”will help correct mistakes against oil-producing communities”.
“Let us remember those attempts and be motivated by the knowledge that we can now correct past mistakes and fulfil the responsibility we owe these communities once and for all,” he said.
He also disclosed that the bill will be passed by April.
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