Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, has assured the nation that vested interest will not stop passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) this time around.
Specifically, Gbajabiamila, who gave the assurance while declaring open a two-day public hearing organised by House Ad-hoc Committee PIB, said it would be passed into law in April this year.
He expressed confidence that the ad-hoc committee headed by Chief Whip, Mohammed Tahir Monguno, would do a thorough job on the proposed legislation.
The Speaker, who said it was a national consensus that there should be comprehensive reform of the oil and gas industry, bemoaned a situation where “this critical national industry underperforms its potential and our national expectations.”
Gbajabiamila noted: “For the most part, we all agree on the need for legislative action to make improvements through statutory and regulatory reform. Therefore, it is disappointing and frankly difficult to explain how successive governments have failed to deliver on the promise of reform despite this broad agreement. We have an opportunity and an obligation to do better, and we will.
“We are not oblivious to the fact that there are many contending interests in this sector. These contentions do not need to result in conflict, especially when we know the objective of national prosperity benefits us all. Therefore, the process of engaging with stakeholders will continue beyond this public hearing to accommodate the diversity of interests and ensure all critical views form part of the deliberations that inform the final legislation.”
He lamented inability of the National Assembly to pass the PIB “which has been upcoming in the last 20 years: because of contending and vested interests.
“A lot of work has gone into the preparation of this bill, but it’s not strait-jacketed. The idea of a public hearing is to have interests that may not have been accommodated prior to the introduction of the PIB to lend their voices and to understand perhaps the bigger environment where they are coming from.
“So my charge to everyone that will be participating is not to close our minds or our ears to the views and positions that may be advanced by various interest groups.
“We are in a world, an economic world, so there must be interest groups and we cannot deny that. But what should guide the outcome of what we do here as we accommodate more views will be what will be in the best interest of the people.
“More importantly, we intend to pass this bill by April. That is a commitment we have made. Some may call it a tall order, but we will do it, and we will do it with every sense of responsibility without compromising the thoroughness of the work that will be done,” the Speaker said.