The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has assured Nigerians that members of the Green Chamber which he superintends are determined to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) within the next six months.
He gave the assurance on Tuesday in Abuja when he received a delegation of the Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) under the Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“On the PIB, there are two things that the House would want to do first, the House is determined to pass the bill within the next six months, or probably less, because the clock has already started running from the time it was presented,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his media adviser, Lanre Lasisi.
The lawmaker added, “Two, the House is determined to pass a PIB that is satisfactory to all. I know it’s difficult to satisfy everybody, but we will try our best to satisfy everybody,” he said. He said the House would ensure that it carried all stakeholders along in working on the draft legislation until its passage.
Gbajabiamila also urged members of the OPTS led by their Chairman, Mr Mike Sangster, to avail themselves the opportunity they have at hand to reach out to the House ad-hoc Committee on PIB to make their inputs.
He was, however, concerned about the submission by Sangster that the PIB, in its present form, would not make the Nigerian oil and gas industry competitive globally.
“The PIB has been long coming. Because of the various interests, it’s difficult to pass a bill that addresses the interests of everyone. But the PIB luckily will involve local content.
“I need to ask the question that where were you when they were making this law? Your inputs should have been there. It’s never too late for you to have your inputs,” the speaker told the OPTS Chairman.
In his remarks, Mr Sangster raised concerns about the present form of the PIB, which he said if passed the way it was, it would negatively affect Nigeria’s competitiveness in the global market.
He noted that in the past years, the African continent attracted about $70 billion of investment in the oil and gas industry but only about $3 billion came to Nigeria despite being a major player continentally.
When the Speaker sought to know from Sangster if the PIB had any positives, the OPTS chairman responded in the affirmative, noting that the PIB represented the much-needed reforms in the sector. Sangster added that in its present form, the Bill “doesn’t provide the environment for future investments.”
He also raised other issues such as the preservation of the oil and gas business in the country, royalties, tax, how to handle NNPC’s outstanding liabilities, segregation of the upstream and downstream, and complexities in the implementation of the bill.
Noting that the petroleum industry had the capacity to create thousands of jobs in the next 10 years, Sangster said, “We would encourage the House to reach out to other sources to have a better analysis of the PIB.”