• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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BusinessDay

Reps may pass PIB without addressing stakeholders’ concerns

Femi-Gbajabiamila

There are indications that the House of Representatives may pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) currently before the lawmakers without addressing the various concerns raised by critical stakeholders.

The lawmakers, on Friday, insisted there was no going back on the passage of the all-important bill by the targeted date of April, 2021.

They, however, remained silent on whether the concerns raised by the various stakeholders during the public hearing would be accommodated before the passage.

During the recently concluded public hearing organised by the House, several stakeholders, including oil producers, oil producing states, organised labour, oil companies and various interest groups opposed some provisions in the law which they argued are not favourable for competition, investments and other activities in the petroleum industry.

The House, in statement at the end of public hearing, signed by its spokesperson, Benjamin Kalu simply said: “The House remains on track to pass the PIB by April 2021, mindful that the legislation will reinvigorate the petroleum industry and promote economic growth in the host communities and the nation at large”.

The Reps also vowed to arrest and prosecute anyone or group of persons who would constitute themselves into a nuisance to breach public peace within the National Assembly complex henceforth.

This followed the fight that erupted between members of the oil host communities in the Niger Delta region on Thursday, day two of the public hearing on the PIB.

According to Kalu, “The House is appalled at the scuffle which broke out between certain participants from the host communities at the public hearing of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), 2020 on Thursday, January 28, 2021. The actions of these culprits were contemptuous and constituted a breach of the sanctity of the House. Fortunately, they were immediately escorted out of the building and proceedings continued peacefully for the rest of the hearing.

“This 9th House of Representatives was predicated upon the tenet of nation-building as a joint task and our compliance with the due process of public hearings is a manifestation of our commitment to that tenet. Public hearings are a critical aspect of law-making. They are an opportunity to invite views from critical stakeholders on legislative interventions and are not an opportunity for virulent altercations or physical combat. Therefore, the House will not hesitate to ensure the arrest and prosecution of any offender who perpetrates a similar occurrence in the future.

“Within the chambers of this great institution of democracy, and indeed in all parts of Nigeria, we must learn to deliberate and resolve our differences with the grace, dignity and mutual respect that democracy demands. The deliberation of the PIB is to provide legal backing and protection for the development of host communities and for the collective good of the nation; a balance of interest between stakeholders of the petroleum sector.

“Therefore, our ability to dissent peacefully and our ability to treat each other with dignity and respect even in the face of disagreement will play a key role in determining the success of one of the ideals for which this legislation is being considered; that grievance can be properly addressed without violence and chaos in our host communities”.