NASS urges President Buhari to present new PIB for early passage
The Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, made the call at the opening of the National Assembly Dialogue on Economy, Security and Development in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the two-day event is organised by the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS).
Dogara, who said investment decisions in the petroleum sector could no longer wait, added that it was important for President Buhari as supervising Minister of Petroleum to transmit the bill as soon as possible.
He also noted that the transmission of the bill was crucial in view of the fact that in spite of the rapid drop in oil prices, oil and gas still accounted for 70 per cent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
The Speaker, who lamented that all efforts to pass the bill in the past failed, gave assurance that the 8th National Assembly was ready to speedily pass it to reposition the petroleum industry.
“The PIB has had a chequered history: It was introduced late in the life of the 6th Assembly and was not passed.
“ In the 7th Assembly, a private Members Bill was introduced in the first month of that Assembly, based on the experience of the 6th Assembly.
“However, the last administration informally indicated that it would prefer an Executive Bill on the matter, which took over two years to materialise.
“It was passed only by the House of Representatives very late in its tenure without the Senate concurring.
“Contrary to the assertion that the size of the bill is the problem, the fact is that an early introduction will lead to an early passage,’’ he said.
Dogara expressed the national assembly’s readiness to partner with the executive arm of government to pass laws that would not only ensure positive but sustainable change.
He pledged that the anti-corruption legislation and over-sight would be the major contribution of parliament to the “change’’ that had come to Nigeria.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, said the dwindling government revenue was an opportunity for Nigeria to look inwards and take advantage of untapped economic opportunities for national development.
Saraki, who was represented by the deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, expressed the legislature’s determination to address the factors that led to poor governance over the years.
He said factors like weak regulatory framework, obsolete laws and poor governance that had contributed to slowing down the country’s growth and development would be adequately looked into.
He also said that the legislature would continue to contribute to an economic reform agenda geared towards expanding economic space for businesses, private sector involvement in infrastructure development as well as consumer rights protection.
“The Senate will work with the House to build a strong coalition, which seeks to layout an aggressive legislative pathway that will enable private sector capital creation and development of private sector resources.
“This is to help to create the necessary legal environment for private sector investment to thrive, to participate in the infrastructure market as well as reduce the high level of credit risk in the system,’’ he said.
The Director General of the NILS, Dr Ladi Hamalai, said the institute felt it was time for major stakeholders to come together to chart a new course for the country.
She noted that as part of its mandate, the institute would continue to organise similar forums where stakeholders would come together to proffer solutions to the country’s challenges.
“The institute felt it is important to organise this dialogue because the country is at a very critical stage.
“We now have a new government with an agenda for change and development and we feel it is important to begin to dialogue on critical economic, political and security issues.
“This is part of the National Assembly’s contribution in the whole effort to give this country its pride of place,’’ she said.