The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has said that the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) by the National Assembly, especially the lower chamber, may become feasible before the end of the year.
Dogara, who spoke yesterday in Abuja at a stakeholders’ dialogue organised by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) to fast-track the passage of the bill, insists it is high time the bill becomes law to speed up transformation in the sector and boost the sector’s contribution to the economy.
The Speaker, represented by Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Upstream, Victor Nwokolo, was optimistic that current effort by the House on the bill would yield meaningful result as soon as possible.
He said the House would leave no stone unturned in ensuring that every aspect of the bill, which is currently divided to about four segments, was signed to address the challenges in the sector.
Dogara said: “We are working seriously on it. I don’t think it will delay beyond this year.”
He added that the current governance crisis in the sector and other emerging issues in the industry would force the House to pass the bill to the best interest of Nigerians.
However, industry experts at the forum said the bill, if not signed as quickly as possible, would continue to hamper the sector’s growth, including revenue losses amounting to about $200 billion.
The Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim, who charged the House members not to be intimidated by any interest group, lamented that projected economic benefits from the sector would remain elusive if the bill is not passed.
Ibrahim stated that the bill remained the solution to the recurring cases of corruption and mismanagement and the environment challenges in the sector.
Also, a partner at Odujinrin & Adefulu, Adeoye Adefulu, said the slow pace of reform in the petroleum industry in Nigeria would continue to limit the capacity of the industry, especially in the face current downturn.
Adefulu said emerging oil and gas countries in Africa were on the verge of overtaking Nigeria.
Besides, a partner at Primera Africa Legal, Israel Aye, who sued for urgent reforms in the industry, noted that enabling policies and legislative framework were fundamental for maximising the potential of Nigeria’s hydrocarbon resources.
According to him, global energy challenges now impact locally hence Nigeria’s oil and gas outlook must always consider trends and events in global energy landscape.