Thirteen years after it was first introduced into the Nigerian legislative chamber, the Petroleum Industry Bill, better known as the PIB, has been passed into law by both the Senate and House of Representatives. Both the upper and lower legislative houses passed the bill on Thursday but in particular, the senate gave its approval after an exhausting clause by clause consideration of the report submitted by its joint committee on Petroleum-Upstream, Downstream and Gas.
However, the approval came short of the expectations of oil producing (host) communities by approving 3% instead of 5 as advocated for by mainly south-south lawmakers who vehemently protested the shortfall.
Prior to the passage of the bill, the senate held a closed door meeting with Minister of state for Petroleum, Timipre Silva and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari. Details of the meeting was undisclosed. However, an elated senate president, Ahmad Lawal, who considered the passage a priority for the 9th assembly, congratulated his colleagues for overcoming the hurdles, noting that the passage this Thursday is almost like achieving a feat that has the hallmark of breaking a jynx.
“The demons (of PIB) have been defeated in this Chamber. We have passed the bill,” he enthused.
At the House of Representatives, the mood was no less the same. Prior to its passage, the House Committee of the Whole considered the report of the ad-hoc committee on PIB as presented on Wednesday by the Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee, Mohammed Monguno APC, Borno. Thereafter, the house passed the bill.
Remarkably, the house went through the bill’s 318 clauses before passing it in less than half an hour. But as usual, the entire process did not pass without drama as the deputy speaker, Idris Wase, APC, Plateau, ignored some members trying to raise points of order which were considered as mere distractions.
At another point, the deputy speaker jumped from clause 189 to 200 prompting a number of his colleagues to roar in disapproval. However, when ask for an opinion on the passage of the bill, a member of the House who prefers anonymity, told 2n-network.com that he aligns with the position of the speaker of the house, Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila. According to him,
“The position of the speaker and in deed the entire house is mine i.e We have made history.” There is indeed, no doubt that the 9th national assembly made history in passing the PIB It which was first introduced to the national assembly in 2008 by an executive bill filed by then President, Umar Yar’Adua. Following certain high wire intrigues and subterfuges, the sixth assembly, 2007-2011, failed to pass it. The PIB was subsequently reintroduced into the 7th assembly in 2012 by President Goodluck Jonathan but like the one submitted by his predecessor, it suffered the same fate.
Attempts to ensure that the bill saw the light of day was made early by the 8th assembly with a passage that was rejected by President Muhammadu Buhari over allegations that certain unwholesome clauses were smuggled into it. In the main, the rejection informed the reason by the law makers to take a more forensic approach hence the agreement to consider it on a clause-by-clause basis. What is left now is a presidential assent.