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PIB: Our Regrets –Mark

Posted: Jun 5, 2015 at 2:26 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

–  Reps Pass Bill In Last Session      

– Agbakoba, Nwobike Hail House

By David Odama (Abuja), Tunde Opeisetan and William Igenegbai (Lagos)


In what appears as an admittance of a major failure of the Seventh Senate, the Chairman of the National Assembly and President of the Senate, David Mark, Thursday expressed regret over the non-passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), just as the House of Representatives in a flash of speed, passed the controversial Bill after about five years of the draft being formally presented to the National Assembly.

With an arm of the National Assembly passing the bill while the other failed to do same, the fate of the bill still hangs in the balance. Perhaps the question is, what will be the next step when the Eighth Senate is eventually inaugurated, Tuesday next week?

Senate President, David Mark (second right), with former Senate Presidents, Ken Nnamani (left), Joseph Wayas (second left) and Ameh Ebute, during the valedictory session for the end of seventh Senate in Abuja on Thursday.

Senate President, David Mark (second right), with former Senate Presidents, Ken Nnamani (left), Joseph Wayas (second left) and Ameh Ebute, during the valedictory session for the end of seventh Senate in Abuja on Thursday.

This is aside the fact that the House of Representatives also disagreed with the Senate on the Oil and Gas Bill, which the upper chamber passed alongside other 45 bills in 10minutes on Wednesday.

But Mark, at the last session of the Seventh Senate publicly took responsibility for any shortfall in the conduct of the upper parliament in the last four years.

Speaking at the valedictory session to mark the end of the Senate, he said that irrespective of his administration’s achievements within the period under review, the upper chamber regrettably didn’t attain some vital goals it set for itself.

“I and I alone take full responsibility for all omissions and commissions in the last four years during my tenure in office as President of the Senate but we all share in the glory and successes.”

“Distinguished colleagues, whatever our achievements are, we are all well aware that we are yet to attain our goal. However, the 7th Assembly has laid a solid foundation, which the Eighth Assembly can build upon”, Mark stated.

The House of Representatives’ disagreement with the Senate over the passage of the Oil and Gas Bill stems from the fact that the passage of the bill neglected detailed scrutiny and debate needed to ascertain whether the content conforms to international best practices.

On the PIB, Protem Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha, had momentarily stepped down the debate to allow members of the Ad hoc Committee, headed by Muhammed Bawa, to complete consultation with technical experts, as was directed by the House on Tuesday when its debate on the clauses was suspended following technical hitches on clauses 209, 247 through 252.

The controversial clause 209, in particular, has to do with exploration of the Chad Basin and the concomitant benefits that should accrue to the communities within the zone, including their contributions as applicable to the people of the Niger Delta.

Once the technical issues in clauses 209 and 247 through 252, which had generated heated disagreements, were resolved, members adopted all the other 422 clauses including schedules and subsections.

Speaking after the third reading and passage of the Bill, Ihedioha, said, “We have received media bashing on the PIB, but we resolved to forgo political consideration and concentrate on the larger benefits for the country.

“We set up ad hoc committee to liaise with technical experts to resolve issues so that we can painstakingly review the report and clear all hitches,” he said, stressing that national interest was paramount in the minds of members’ overall contributions to the debate.

He urged the Senate to tidy up its loose ends on the bill to ensure that the nation eventually benefits from the efficacies of the re-invigorated oil industry law.

Disagreement over the Oil and Gas Bill passed by the Senate followed a motion by the Deputy Leader of the House, Leo Ogor, in which he contended that the bill was not adequately debated with a view to establishing its efficacy for the society.

According to the lawmaker, critical bills need to be thoroughly examined in order that aspect of the law would not be replicated as well as ensure that standards were maintained for the good of the nation.

In spite of the failure of the Senate to pass the PIB and the House seeming disagreement on the Oil and Gas Bill, listing some of the key achievements of the immediate past Senate, Mark stated, “We have had a chequered history in our democratic journey. In the course of this, the legislature sought to improve our electoral system in several Acts of the National Assembly. Gladly, our efforts have helped to make our elections free, fair and credible. The year 2015 general elections is a testimony to this.”

Mark also accepted that the last four years have been defining for Nigeria in many respects, including the rise in insurgency and the ruthless mayhem unleashed on Nigerians by the Boko Haram sect.

“There is no doubt that the Boko Haram crisis exposed serious cracks in our security system, challenged our unity, threatened our future and seriously dented our international image.

“Some landmark bills passed by this Senate include but not limited to; Pension Reform Act 2014, National Health Act, Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act and the Terrorism (Prevention) Act.”

He noted that despite the penchant of the executive not to comply with National Assembly resolutions, they nevertheless served as moral compass of putting the executive in check, adding that Senate effectively collaborated with the executive in the overall national interest, stabilising the polity without undermining the integrity and independence of the Senate citing the ratification of state of Emergency proclamation by former President Goodluck Jonathan in the three states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa as well as convening the National Conference of 2014 to assuage the yearnings of Nigerians and chart a way forward for the country.

In his reaction, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) said that he was happy about the passage of the Bill by the House of Representatives although it had come too late. He wondered why the lawmakers were now rushing to pass the bills which had been before the National Assembly for many years, citing the Senate’s recent passage of so many bills at the eve of members’ departure.

He, however, advised that Nigerians should wait to see the reaction of the incoming legislators who could say that the bill has expired.

Another Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dr. Joseph Nwobike, described the passage of the bill into law by the House of Representatives as a right decision that would bring about positive changes and development in the oil and gas sector.

Nwobike, in a telephone interview with Daily Independent, said the passage of the bill was long overdue and was indeed good, coming at this critical time in the history of the country.

“It is a welcome development. I’m happy that members of the House of Representatives have decided to put politics aside and do the needful.

“The law will bring about the desired astronomical growth both in the downstream and upstream sectors of the oil and gas industry. I also believe that the law will help to expand the local content policy of the Federal Government and thereby drive growth in that sector, with the attendant economic gains.

“What I will like to add is that all other stakeholders should do the needful by making the law to become fully operational in Nigeria.”

“Otherwise it is good news for the country as the bill will help sanitise the oil industry,” he said.

The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) was initiated by the late President Umar Yar’Adua to find a final solution to the perennial crises in the nation’s oil industry.