Thursday, February 11, 2016

BREAKING PIB JINX: The Workings of A New Nat'l Assembly


BREAKING THE PIB JINX: THE WORKINGS OF A NEW NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
Sometimes, Nigerians wonder where the many challenges of our nation stem from. However, when you learn of the fact that Nigeria loses as much as USD15 billion as a result of not passing one law, the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), then one cannot help but understand that the inadequacies in our system must be addressed.

It is also difficult to imagine that in 16 years of the National Assembly - as presently constituted - the almighty PIB that should have been passed, signed and implemented in past sessions has continued to reincarnate itself as the ‘ever-elusive PIB.&

What this means is that the additional revenue that could have been accrued that would have led to the provision of additional roads, hospitals and schools for the citizenry are currently non-existent.

Many of us remember the valedictory speech of the former Senate President, David Alechenu Bonaventure Mark, at the end of the 7th National Assembly, where he pointed out that they had basically failed Nigerians by not passing the PIB in concurrence with the House of Representatives. However, with efforts underway to ensure that the 8th National Assembly is different from its predecessors, under the leadership of the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker, Rt. Honorable Yakubu Dogara, the hopes of the speedy passage of the PIB in the early years of this All Progressive Congress-led administration seem not only possible, but entirely plausible.

Recently, steps taken in this direction have once again awoken the hopes of industry players and Nigerians that there is hope to reignite the passage of the PIB. A few weeks after taking office, Dr. Saraki, while hosting the Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company, Osagie Okunbor, and his team at his office, stated that: “The PIB remained a priority in the Senate”. He added that: “We have to engage, discuss and dialogue. We can break this jinx. But it can only be achieved devoid of politics and politicking.”

Also, while the Senate President inaugurated the Senate Committees, he did not mince words in charging the Petroleum Upstream, Petroleum Downstream and Gas Committees to immediately swing into action so as to make quick passage of the PIB possible. He stated that the leadership of the Committees were carefully chosen to help complete the reform process that will make the nation’s oil and gas industries more adaptive to international best practices.

The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has pointed out on numerous occasions that they are going to be open, transparent and accountable and this is what the PIB seeks to achieve in the petroleum industry. Efforts in this respect have also been quite visible, based on the speech made by the current Minister of State for Petroleum and NNPC Boss, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu. While going through his ministerial screening, Kachikwu remarked that: ‘’Once you begin to break it up into critical aspects, you begin to make a faster run to passing the PIB.”

In this regard, the coast keeps getting clearer. The legislature has pointed out that it is ready for the PIB to become law. The body language of the executive seems to also be in sync with the process.

Recently, Speaker Dogara eloquently took over the crusade by joining forces with Saraki to champion the breaking down of the PIB towards easier passage. This is a pointer that a joint task force of both arms of the legislature will be in the utmost interest of the country as it will ensure that more people-oriented bills are passed with the least amount of delay.

These developments make for interesting times, as if the PIB is passed, the emergence of the dynamic-duo of Saraki and Dogara as the leaders of the 8th National Assembly would be truly ‘Godsend.’ If by the end of the tenure of the 8th National Assembly, they successfully marshall their colleagues to pass the PIB in sections as they are proposing then, the Nigerian electorate as well as the leadership of the 8th National Assembly can beat our chest that this administration has risen to the height of its potential.

Better days lie ahead for Nigeria in terms of governance, and with this new partnership between the House and the Senate for the greater good, it is indeed a clear indication that this assembly will not waste a day of the four year mandate given to them by the Nigerian people.

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