N/Assembly To Ignore Southern Governors As It Defends PIB

 There are strong indications that the National Assembly will ignore opposition to some provisions of the Petroleum Industry Bill recently passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

It had on Wednesday been gathered that after the harmonisation of the versions of the bill passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives,  the bill would be submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.

After 13  years of its introduction, both the House and the Senate on Thursday passed the bill. While the House proposed five per cent share for host communities, the Senate suggested three per cent.

The National Assembly also proposed 30 per cent of the profit of the planned Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited for oil exploration in frontier basins, which are mostly in the North.

But at their meeting in Lagos on Monday, southern governors rejected setting aside  30 per cent of the NNPCL’s profit for oil prospecting in frontier basins. They also opposed three per cent share proposed for host communities.

On his part, a prominent leader in the Niger Delta, Chief Edwin Clark, described  the bill as satanic.

Already, both chambers have set up conference committees to harmonise the different versions of the bill.

According to The PUNCH, however,  the conference committee would only focus on the areas of difference and would not tinker with the provisions under criticism.

Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, had on Tuesday constituted a conference committee to harmonise the differences in the versions of the PIB passed by the Senate and the House.

Gbajabiamila announced members of the panel as including the Chairman of the House’ Ad Hoc Committee on PIB and Majority Whip of the House, Mohammed Monguno  and six others as members

They are Victor Nwokolo, Ademorin Kuye, Kingley Uju, Tijjani Yusuf, Ibahim Hamza and Mansur Soro.

On Wednesday when asked if the joint committee of both chambers would consider issues raised by the southern governors and other stakeholders, a member of the panel, who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity,  said the lawmakers would only concern themselves with resolving the differences in the versions passed.

He stated, “Conference committees are meant to harmonise differences reached by two chambers. So, if this (Senate and House’ 3%/5% disparity) is the only difference, that is it.”

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