By EricJames Ochigbo
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has urged stakeholders in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to place national interest above personal interest in their efforts towards the passage of the bill.
Gbajabimila made the call at a retreat titled “Petroleum Industry Bill and the Future of Nigeria,” organised by the Northern Caucus in the House of Representatives on Monday in Abuja.
While noting that the sector had been operating with an old law that was passed in 1959, describing the law as ‘obsolete and a trash’ that can no longer stimulate economic activities.
“There will always be sentiments, but all sentiments should be tied to the mutual coexistence of the Nigeria; our diversity should be a source of strength.
“Our difference should not be translated into conflicts and disunity among citizens; Nigeria should grow and continue to be the mother of the continent which she is,” he said.
Represented by Majority Leader of the house, Ado Doguwa (APC-Kano), Gbajabiamila commended the caucus for organising the retreat.
He said described the retreat as educative and a timely productive action, as it came at a time when the parliament was considering the PIB.
“The PIB is one of the most topical issues before the National Assembly and I believe each and everyone of you will be glad to be a part of this important history.
“So let us create a legislative framework that will come up with a system that is not only globally recognise, but timely and apt to organise and promote our economy engagement within and without the country Nigeria which we all belong.
“It is my believe that when this bill is passed into law, with all consideration taken, we will come up with a framework that will encourage economic engagement, within and without the country; promote oil and gas sector,” he said.
The Chairman of the caucus, Sarki Adar (APC-Sokoto), said that the idea of the retreat was not political but for developmental reasons.
He said that the PIB had suffered a lot of casualties in the past parliament, adding that the authors of the current PIB had done a good job.
The lawmaker said that was why the bill must see the light of the day because the world was already moving away from fossil oil.
According to him, in the next 20 years or there about, oil will loose its value; there is no better time than now to explore oil to development agriculture and education sectors.
Adar said that oil which had also been discovered in the North must be explored to boost revenue generation in the country.
He also said that the interest of northern host communities where oil had been discovered should be factored in the PIB.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha said that the petroleum industry was a the backbone of Nigeria’s economy as it provided bulk of the funds used in running the country.
Mustapha said that he was delighted that the 9th assembly had taken up the PIB after it suffered many casualties since its introduction in 2008.
He urged the lawmakers to take a careful look at the issues concerning host communities and the governance structure of oil industry.
Mustapha said that parliamentarians should ensure increased transparency in the bill, ensure market reforms and sustainable use of revenues generated from the sector.
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr Mohammed Bello said that though efforts were ongoing to diversify the economy, it was important to ensure efficient management of the oil sector.
He said that the lawmakers must ensure that the PIB does not only bring about reforms in the oil sector, it should meet the aspirations of all Nigerians.
Bello urged the lawmakers to consider funding for renewable energy as it was the new trend that will keep the economy running.
The minister said that adequate attention should be given to making gas available to all Nigerians to replace the use of firewood.
Bello said that gas was cheaper and would prevent indiscriminate felling of trees urging the lawmakers not to shy away from the onshore/offshore dichotomy. (NAN)