By Gift Eguavoen
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said the 9th NASS had to learn from past mistakes and adopt new strategies to get the much awaited Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) passed and eventually signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Speaking with journalists at the Presidential Villa, Lawan said given the hiccups the Bill had suffered in previous Assembly, the 9th Assembly identified the passage as a strong, fundamental, critical and strategic bill that must be passed within its life cycle.
“We redefined the way to go about it because we would have learnt from the mistakes of the past on the issue. And what we emphasised that worked for us, was to ensure that we work very closely with the executive arm of government right from the conception of the bill.
“So our oil and gas related committees started working with agencies of government that handle the oil and gas industry. And we had this interaction continuously up to the point that the bill was finally presented to the National Assembly.
“Members of the National Assembly had taken the passage of this bill to be one legacy this Ninth National Assembly should leave by the time we complete our tenure,” Lawan said.
He said with the law now in place Nigeria and Nigerians will benefit more from the sector as it will provide certainty, create legal framework and make it possible to have foreign direct investment particularly coming into the oil industry.
On the agitation for more funds for the host communities, Lawan said: “The host communities are winners as well. It may not be necessarily exactly what some of them had hoped. But from zero to over $500million… and with time, such issues will be further addressed but I want to also caution that it is not the $500million that is more important but how we are able to prudently and transparently deploy this money in the host communities.
“This time around, there should be no excuses for anybody to tamper with this money. The host communities have suffered enough, even when NDDC was established, I’m sure it was established because of the host communities’ issues and yet the host communities did not get much attention.”
While advising against complaints about the law, he added that when implementation begins, it would be possible to see what areas need to be reworked or possibly amended.
“I will advise that for now, let us not be emphasising the problems. This is something we all have to address with some optimism and hope that it would be okay. But because we are human beings, no act of human could be perfect. So when we are able to see issues, the National Assembly is there. Bring them for amendment,” the senate president said.