The debate on the controversial new Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in the Senate failed on Tuesday, as members of the upper chamber refused to take the second reading, Ripples gathered.
Ripples Nigeria was reliably informed that most senators opposed the second reading of the bill on the grounds that copies of the bill was not distributed to them.
According to the senators, the usual procedure where copies of bills meant to be presented for debate on the Senate floor, were always circulated to members ahead of time, was not adhered to.
Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, had already given the floor to the
sponsor of the bill, Senator Omotayo Alasoadura (Ondo Central) to lead the debate but opposition mounted as the lawmakers shouted that they were yet to receive copies of the bill.
Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who led the protest, said that copies of the bill should have been circulated to all senators ahead of formal debate to enable them make useful contributions.
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Akpabio insisted that the bill entitled “A bill for an Act to provide for governance and institutional framework for the Petroleum Industry and for other matters connected therewith, 2016” should not be treated with levity.
He noted that since oil and gas remained the life wire of the country’s economy since independence, any bill aimed at revitalising the sector should be given the importance it deserved.
Akpabio said, “Mr President, I believe that we are discussing about the economy of Nigeria; since 1960, the main stay of the economy of this country has been crude oil and therefore, the Petroleum Industry Bill is such an important bill that will affect people suffering in this country.
“It will also affect the budget of the federal government that we are doing today.
“It is not the kind of bill that we can stay here and gloss over and then allow somebody to do a lead debate without senators having the bill in their hands.
“It is something we must study and come and make our own inputs, because we have to make sure that if that bill is properly done and then the president signs it into law, then it will help the economy of this country and it will also help to generate more income and enhance the living standards of Nigerians.
“I think it is an exercise in futility for my brother to do a lead debate when the bill is not circulated to senators.”
The Senate President, who said the bill was supposed to have been circulated since last week Thursday, ruled that the debate be stood down till Wednesday to allow for the circulation of copies of the proposed legislation. He also directed Senator Alasoadura to ensure that senators get copies of the bill.
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