PIB passage deadlocked, Reps suspend consideration indefinitely

Written by on July 16, 2021

The harmonised version of the Petroleum Industry Bill failed to pass at the House of Representatives on Thursday as consideration of the report by the conference committee on the bill caused a sharp division in the chamber.

Protests by members, especially from the southern part of the country, forced the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, to call for an emergency executive (closed-door) session, after which he asked that laying of the report by the committee be stepped down.

The lawmakers had protested against the alleged reduction of allocation to host communities in the PIB.

In the original version of the executive bill, five per cent was proposed as the share of oil revenue to the host communities.

The Senate and the House had passed the PIB last week Thursday, approving three and five per cent, respectively for the host communities.

Both chambers had set up conference committees to harmonise the differences in their versions of the PIB.

Thursday’s plenary began on a rowdy note as the protesters repeatedly said, “Give us five per cent.”

The protest continued as Gbajabiamila led principal officers into the chamber around noon.

The noise persisted as Gbajabiamila said the opening prayers, forcing him to order that the chamber and the gallery be cleared for an executive session.

The meeting, which started around 12.10pm, lasted till around 1.20pm.

After the meeting, it was observed that the frayed nerves had been calmed.

When it was time for Chairman of the committee and Chief Whip of the House, Mohammed Monguno, to lay the report, Gbajabiamila asked that the presentation be stepped down.

A source, who was at the meeting, told our correspondent that the conference committee was asked to review the report.

“The committee was eventually asked to go back and rework the report. We would not have agreed if that was not the agreement,” the lawmaker from the South-South geopolitical zone said this on the condition of anonymity.

The House had earlier rejected a motion seeking to include Bauchi State among the oil producing states.

A member, Yakubu Abdullahi, had moved a motion titled, ‘Need for the Federal Government to Declare Bauchi State as Oil and Gas Producing State’.

Abdullahi noted that oil and gas remained critical to the economic development of Nigeria and key to the implementation of budgets at all levels of government.

He recalled that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on February 2, 2019, signalled the spud-in of the Kolmani River II well drilling in Bauchi State and directed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to extend its exploration to six basins in the country.

According to the lawmaker, it has become necessary to ascertain the fortunes at the disposal of the Federal Government in the Alkaleri Local Government Area of the state so as to hasten the process of giving effect to the provisions of the new Petroleum Industry Bill, 2021 just passed by the National Assembly.

The Speaker, who presided over the session, put the motion to voice vote and it was unanimously opposed.

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