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Reps to pass PIB by March

The House of Representatives will pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law by the end of the first quarter of March, the ad hoc committee on the lower legislature said in Abuja on Wednesday.

The lower legislative chamber passed the bill for second reading on Tuesday.

Monguno Mohammed, the chief whip of the House and chair of the committee, disclosed at the inaugural meeting of the panel that the legislation would enhance clarity of functions, structures, transparency, accountability and general efficiency as well as the effectiveness of the energy sector institutions.

“Under our watch as a committee, which I am privileged to chair, it is a general consensus that the passage of this Bill is long overdue. We are taking time to review what has been done by the previous Assemblies and what we need to do differently,” Mohammed said.

“Prior to the referrer of the bill, the leadership of the House, the Senate, and the relevant committees of the National Assembly have been briefed by the Hon. Minister of (State for) Petroleum (Resources, Timipre Sylva), with his team, wherein most of the concerns and controversies contained in the previous drafts has been significantly addressed with this present draft.”

He assured that the panel would strive to involve civil societies, stakeholders and the public by according the bill a meticulous review.

“We are confident that this piece of legislation will stand the test of time. In as much as we are eager to pass the bill, we will not circumvent legislative process. It is our hope and belief that the bill will be passed by the end of the first quarter of the year 2021.”

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“The committee has taken liberty to create a website, www.hrpib.org.ng, as one of the platforms where stakeholders and interested members of the general public can download the text of the bill and also upload comments/inputs/memoranda to same.

“The website is particularly important because it enables all Nigerians so long as you have internet access, irrespective of where they might be or live, to participate in the legislative process,” the lawmaker said.

He observed that the legislative process of the oil and gas bill began in 2007 when it was first introduced to the House.

“However, the passage of the bill has evaded three successive Assemblies, i.e. the 6th, 7th and 8th Assemblies.

“I am particularly alarmed that though the exploration of fossil fuel in Nigeria dates back to the 60s but commercial exploration may only last for another 25 years. It is not to say that we might exhaust the deposit, but that the entire world is focusing on research to develop, renewable energy that could turn out to be cheaper and environmentally friendlier.

“That is why it has become expedient, more than ever to leverage on this window of opportunity that the oil exploration present to us as Nigerians, by ensuring that the Petroleum Industry Bill is passed without further delay,” he said.

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