The Senate on Thursday raised hope for the quick passage of the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) when its president, David Mark, announced that three days have been scheduled next week for the second reading of the bill.
The bill was transmitted to the National Assembly last year by President Goodluck Jonathan and the lawmakers gazetted it immediately to avoid its duplication.
Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, and officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had twice briefed federal lawmakers last month as part of government
efforts to lobby the National Assembly to pass the bill.
Senators and members of the House of Representatives from the Northern states are opposed to the passage of the bill on grounds that it did not address the interest of the region.
Bukola Saraki, senator from Kwara Central and chairman, Senate Committee on Environment, had claimed that “the problem with the PIB is that there are so many things that are taken at the same time” and said “some of them are controversial”.
He, however, said that the kind of criticisms on the bill are misplaced, stressing that “the key issues which are fiscal are not being addressed. Rather than condemn the bill in its entirety, we should have taken administrative and institutional framework
instead of dumping it for political reason”.
Mark, while presiding on Thursday, asked senators wishing to contribute to debates on the bill for second reading to write down their names for identification on the fixed days next week.
Meanwhile, the Senate also on Thursday criticised the continued exclusion of the National Planning Commission (NPC) from the budget planning process by the Finance Ministry.
The Senate mandated its committees on National Planning and Finance to review the current national planning linkage and recommend amendments to the relevant laws.
This followed the motion by Olubunmi Adetumbi (ACN- Ekiti), which called for a review of national planning and budgeting process.
TUNJI OLAWUNI, Abuja