Attempts by members of the House of Representatives to debate the Petroleum Industry Bill failed on Tuesday due to what the Majority Leader, Mrs. Mulikat Adeola-Akande, attributed to lack of “ministerial details.”
The PIB was listed for debate and second reading on Tuesday. However, another bill similar to the PIB was also listed for consolidation with it before the debate.
The second bill is entitled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Establish the National New Frontier Exploration Agency for the purpose of exploration and production of oil and gas in the Frontier of Chad Basin, Dahomey Basin, Imo Basin, Benue Trough, Bauchi Basin and Sokoto Basin, and for other matters connected therewith.’
The House consolidated the two bills and Akande-Adeola was asked to lead the debate, but she requested that the bill should be stood down on the grounds that she had yet to receive ministerial details from the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The House leader said the ministerial briefing was needed as a guide to lead the debate since the PIB was an Executive bill.
She added that as at Tuesday, she had not received the briefing, a reason the debate would not commence.
“The ministerial details are not with me. I apply that the bill should be stood down till next week,” Akande-Adeola said.
The Speaker, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, obliged the request, ruling that the debate be deferred till next week.
“We will begin the debate on the PIB next week. This cannot happen today because the leader expected some briefing from the Minister of Petroleum Resources,” Tambuwal said.
He advised members to ensure that they read their copies of the bill and be prepared for the debate.
“God willing, this debate will take place next week. All those wishing to contribute to the debate should submit their names to the leader’s office,” the Speaker said.
Drama often trails the debate of the PIB at the National Assembly.
In the Sixth Assembly, lawmakers came up with several excuses to ensure that the bill was not passed.
At first, some lawmakers claimed not to have copies of the bill or that they did not come to the chamber with it.
On other occasions, they blamed the delay on claims that the bill was voluminous and they needed time to read it.
Although the bill was debated eventually, it was stalled at the committee level till the assembly wound down.
At the Senate, senators in the Sixth Assembly barely touched the bill.
When the new PIB was introduced to the Seventh Assembly last July, lawmakers protested, saying President Goodluck Jonathan brought it on the day they were proceeding on their annual recess.
The bill was stood down till the Assembly reconvened in September.
However, a lawmaker from Borno State, Mr. Kaka Gujbawu, later sponsored the bill that was consolidated with the PIB on Tuesday.
The second bill is said to address the interests of lawmakers from the North, who are reportedly seeking for similar benefits for their communities, same as had been recommended for communities in the Niger Delta by the PIB.
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PIB: Unavailable ‘ministerial details’ stall debate by Reps