THE National Assembly has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency transmit a new Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to the parliament for consideration and passage into law.
It described the PIB as one of the most important pieces of legislation that should be quickly considered and passed in the interest of the economy.
Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, made the call yesterday at the opening ceremony of the National Assembly Dialogue on Economy, Security and Development in Abuja, organised by the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS).
Dogara, who insisted that investment decisions in the petroleum sector could no longer wait, said the country could no longer afford to organise sector in such a manner that would not benefit the nation.
The Speaker noted that it was important for Buhari, as minister of Petroleum, to transmit a new PIB to the National Assembly for consideration and passage into law.
He said the immediate transmission of a new PIB to the National Assembly had become even more compelling because oil and gas still accounts for over 70 per cent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings in spite of rapid drop in oil prices.
He noted that although efforts in the past to pass the bill failed, the Eighth National Assembly was ready to speedily pass the bill to reposition the petroleum industry.
The speaker expressed the National Assembly’s readiness to partner with the executive arm of government to enact positive laws that would engender sustainable change.
He also pledged that anti-corruption legislation and over-sight would be the major contribution of parliament to the “change” that had come to the country.
Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on his part, noted that the dwindling government revenue was an opportunity for the country to look inwards towards taking advantage of untapped economic opportunities for national development.
Saraki, who was represented by the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, said that the National Assembly was determined to address factors that had led to poor governance in the country over the years.
He noted that such factors as weak regulatory framework, obsolete laws and poor governance that had contributed to slowing down the country’s growth and development would be adequately addressed.
The legislature, he said, would continue to contribute to an economic reform agenda aimed at expanding economic space for business, private sector involvement in infrastructure development as well as consumers’ rights protection.
He said that the National Assembly would pursue budget reform bill, ecological funds utilisation bill, Excess Crude Account Management Bill, Executive Bodies Independent Protection Law Bill, Federal Account Accountability and Transparency Act, National Assembly Budget Research Bill, Police Reform Bill, Justice Reform Bill, Criminal Procedure Law Amendment Bill and Whistle Blowers Protection Bill.
Director General of NILS Dr. Ladi Hamalai said the institute felt it was time for major stakeholders to come together to chart a new course for the country.
She noted that as part of its mandate, the institute would continue to organise similar forum, where stakeholders would come together to proffer solutions to the country’s challenges