The Nigerian Senate has fixed October 20 to commence debate on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), a move the Senate President Ahmad Lawan says will ensure the jinx that has hindered the passage of the bill for decades is broken.
The PIB is key to repositioning Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, as the main laws governing the industry have not been updated since the 1960s due to contentious issues such as taxes, payments to local communities, revenue sharing among others.
Lawan in a series of tweets on his official Twitter handle said he has urged lawmakers to prepare for the task.
“In line with our resolve to break the jinx on the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), forwarded by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly last week, we have fixed Tuesday, October 20, 2020, as the date for the commencement of debate on the Bill.
“We want to get the document to our Joint Committee before we suspend plenary, otherwise, the document will remain unattended to throughout the time that we would be handling the budget; and that means we can only come back to it around November or December, and that would be late,” Lawan said.
Lawmakers are expected to have their hands full as they attend to the 2021 budget and the PIB, but Lawan said the Nigerian legislature will ” do our best to deliver, we will take sufficient time to work on it because it is a very sensitive document.
“If we are able to take the debate, pass the PIB for second reading and refer the document to our Joint Committees on Petroleum (Upstream and Downstream); and Gas, the committee can keep work on the PIB warm, while we are working on the budget.
“Our Joint Committee must do everything possible for us to have a document or report that we would work with in the Senate and something that Nigerians and investors will be happy with.” the Senate President said.
By Abel Ejikeme