Hurdles that stalled passage of PIB, by Tayo Alasoadura
Senator Tayo Alasoadura has exposed the hurdles surmounted to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in the National Assembly. He said the hurdles did not allow it to pass through the sixth and seventh Assembly despite the transparency and accountability it offers in the management of the nation’s petroleum resources.
Giving insight to the major problems confronting the petroleum Industry in Nigeria for over two decades, Alasoadura, who is the PIB sponsor and Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), revealed this in Akure at the weekend when he got a commendation letter from the state Correspondent Chapel on assessment of his representation by the people of the state.
The bill, which was first introduced in 2008, drives to split Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) into Nigerian Petroleum Assets Management (NPAM) and National Oil Company (NOC).
He said the imbalance in the National Assembly, which often times make the vote from the northern senators to defeat the southern legislators; coupled with the efforts of oil lords who benefit from the situation, stalled the bill.
“The politics behind it, is more than what you have to do to get the bill passed. In fact, there was a day I was abused by a set of people who came to lobby me for the bill not to be passed.
“Unless you can withstand pressure, you won’t be able to do what I did. And by the time we were to take the bill to the floor of the house for passage, we booked three days because we thought it will be stormy.
“The South South wants everything, the North does not want it. So, when it comes to the floor of the Senate, it will die because the Northern Senators are more than the Southern senators.
“In the National Assembly, the politics there is different from that of your state. National Assembly is about lobby.’’ It is about getting people to support you. If they don’t support you, if you bring the best bill to the floor of the Senate, it will die,” he said.
“They offered me money but I said no, that the little money I have that God had provided for me is enough to cater for my wellbeing and that of my family.
“So the politics, lobby and so on from those who do not want the bill to see the light of the day was terrible. “But to the glory of God, the bill was passed in two hours because I did a lot of underground work like meeting people, convincing them about the need for it and areas where people feel they were not satisfied especially, the frontier oil exploration outside the South South.”
Alasoadura, who was the state Commissioner for Finance and Planning, explained further that PIB was subtly divided into four parts so as to overcome the initial hurdles to its passage.
The four new PIB bills, he listed to be: the Governance Bill, the Administration Bill, the Local Community Bill and the Fiscal Bill.
Consequently, he added that before the passage of the bill, 52 senators were already convinced and appended their signatures when they knew that all interests were mutually protected.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Church under the Caristas Nigeria and the Justice for Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) has called on the National Assembly to drop the proposed NGO bill saying it is a subtle way of promoting and protecting one religion by setting up a framework in which others might be persecuted.
A press statement by the National Director, Caritas Nigeria and JDPC, Rev. Fr. Evaristus Bassey, advised for more collaboration between House Committees and the leadership.
Caritas Nigeria and JDPC wondered why the House wants “to control NGOs instead of providing public financial support to NGOs as it’s done in many nations of the world. To this end, Caritas Nigeria and JDPC and other NGOs would only accept an NGO Bill that would guarantee public financial support especially to humanitarian NGOs without compromising the independence of the NGOs.”
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