LEGISREPORTS NG – Lack of funds has been identified as the main reason why further legislative work has been stalled on the crucial Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in the House of Representatives.
The bill which is very crucial to long desired reforms of the oil and gas sector of the economy has continued to suffer delays in the federal legislature since the sixth assembly when the executive first introduced it.
When work could not be concluded on the bill before that assembly expired, it was introduced afresh again in the extant seventh assembly but with about one year before the end of the tenure, the bill has continued to suffer neglect in the hands of the lawmakers who are heavily paid from the public till.
The National Assembly is run on an opaque annual budget of at least 150 billion naira and yet bills of utmost national importance like the PIB is stalled in the legislative chambers due to lack of funds.
Speaker of the House, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal in November 2012 inaugurated a special committee under the chairmanship of Chief Whip of the House, Hon. Isiaka Bawa to fast track passage of the bill.
The committee in April last year embarked on zonal hearings on the bill and culminated in a grand finale in Abuja while Speaker Tambuwal had at an event in Lagos last year said the PIB committee would table it’s report before the House in July, 2013.
However, a member of the committee told LEGISREPORTS in confidence that the leadership of the House had continued to play ostrich to the funding hitches of the committee while playing to the gallery on the issue.
The member said the committee cannot complete it’s assignment because of the funding issue as “even sitting allowances of members cannot be defrayed which is why when meetings are called, the turn up is very discouraging. ”
Another source close to the committee also told LEGISREPORTS that if things continue this way, the PIB will not see the light of day in this seventh assembly, warning that the politics of 2015 have further compounded the issue of the bill.
Meanwhile, the ministry of Petroleum Resources has mounted fresh campaign to push for the passage of the PIB in the national assembly.
It was gathered that the gale of unsavory revelations oozing from the current probe of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in the national assembly has reinforced the need for the PIB to passed by the federal lawmakers.
This report was prepared by our Editor who was at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja