..Opts for fresh document, to be ready before 2020 end

Nigerian National Assembly has said that the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) would not be discussed or represented in its current state, rather a fresh document will be packaged and passed, and thereafter presented to the President for assent. 

It is believed that the suddenly change in gear by the National Assembly is a condition by the Presidency if the business and investment bill will ever become law in Nigeria.

At a meeting with representatives of the International Monetary (IMF) in  Abuja on Wednesday, President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, hinted that the 9th National Assembly is committed to completing all work on the new bill before the end of 2020 for President Buhari to assent it into law. 

He said all the challenges that crippled the old PIB will be taken into consideration in packaging the new bill.

Lawan said the 9th National Assembly has devised a strategy which deploys constant interaction and collaboration between the executive and legislative arms of government, adding that the interface between both arms would birth a new PIB to be drafted from scratch.

“The Petroleum Industry Bill as referred to, has defied passage over the years since 2007. In 2011, there was another effort by the government, that bill was not passed as well. 

In 2015, there was a legislative effort and the PIGB was passed eventually, but at the end of the day was not signed,” he noted  

Speaking on the relationship between the International body and Nigeria, the Senate President said, the IMF has been a friend of Nigeria for a long time. “Nigeria needs IMF, we are not contesting this. We have our own challenges and have to borrow resources to implement, particularly the capital part of our budget. So, we always prioritize our budget to reflect our infrastructural needs. 

We want you to always be there to support us, we believe that you can give us advise that will help our economy,” said the Senate President

He also appealed to the IMF to support committees of the National Assembly in the area of capacity building for legislators, noting that such support to relevant finance committees would assist in the discharge of oversight functions and guarantee prudence and efficiency on the part of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government.

“The fact that the National Assembly is critical to the development of this country means that you should help us build our capacities. Members of the finance committee should be able to have more capacities to discharge their responsibilities, and also when they engage ministry of finance or the financial institutions, they should be able to have very solid platform to exercise oversight critically to ensuring there is prudence and efficiency,” the Senate President added.

“So, we came up with a new idea in the 9th National Assembly. This time around, we should actually interact and collaborate more even before the bill is born. 

Let the Petroleum Industry Bill be one of the Executive and Legislature, and that means starting to work on the bill from scratch between both arms of government.

“We are in consultation already, and by the time that we are able to fashion out the bill, our committees will swing into action. We believe that this time around, the ninth National Assembly will break the jinx and should be able to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill,” Lawan said.

He added that the economy will get a boost when the National Assembly passes the Petroleum Industry Bill before the end of the year and is signed into law.

Representatives on the IMF delegation include: Amine Mati, Senior Resident Representative Mission Chief for Nigeria; Jesmine Raman; Zainab Mangga; Nanrup Ibrahim; Osana Odonye; and Harrison Okafor.

Chibisi Ohakah

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