By Ifeanyi Nwoko
President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki on Tuesday urged the International Oil Companies and Oil Producers Trade Section (IOC/OPTS) operating in the country not to induce lawmakers during the consideration of other sections of the Petroleum Industry Bill.
The Fiscal and Host Communities Bills, a components of the Petroleum Industry Bill is currently before the National Assembly for consideration and passage.
Saraki who stated this when the leadership of the IOC/OPTS visited him in Abuja.
According to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, in Abuja, he said that the leadership of the 8th National Assembly has made it clear to all lawmakers involved in the process to live above board.
He called on the leadership of the OIC/OPTS to report any lawmaker who seeks any personal favour when the process of passing the bills commences this month of May.
Saraki said: “Let me also use these opportunity to just make some ground rules clear. We as the 8th National Assembly – I told you at the beginning that the two houses will be on the same position on the remaining Bills. I think we have shown that on the first bill we passed.
“I am confident that for these other bills too, we will do the same. I want to assure you that it is in our own interest and the leadership has made it clear to all the members involved that this must be a transparent process.
“We are doing it in the interest of the country. Leadership is not going to tolerate any hanky-panky. No favours. No gifts. Nothing must be given to get this work done.
“And we want to mandate you that if you see any of these you should be able to bring it to the attention of the leadership. All we want to see is a Bill that is in the interest of Nigeria and we have read the riot act to all our members that nobody should approach anybody for any interest towards any benefit and I want to make this very clear.
“This is the position of leadership on this issue. We must ensure that everything is above board because this is not just a Bill for today, but for future generations. We must make sure that in our time it is done properly,” he stated.
Saraki said that after the passage of the PIGB by the National Assembly which is now before now before the Presidency for assent, the process for the passage of the Fiscal and Host Communities Bills will soon commence – to pass a petroleum bill that will be a “win-win” for all stakeholders.
He said: “This is where we are now and this is where it concerns those of you who are operators to see that we can pass a petroleum bill that is a win win for all.
“A petroleum bill that will be a win for Nigeria on the revenue side, investment side and jobs creation; and it is also a win for those who are investing in Nigeria. Because we appreciate that it is a very competitive world out there and we must make Nigeria competitive.
“The only way we can do that is through engagement. We cannot do it by just passing a bill and just putting it at your doorstep, because we are not the ones that will do the investment. So, it has to be a bill that we all believe is in the interest of all those who are involved,” he said.
It would be recalled that the National Assembly Assembly has commenced the process of passing the Fiscal and Host Communities components of the Petroleum Industry Bill after the passage of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) now before the President for assent.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation of the IOC/OPTS and Managing Director of Shell Nigeria Limited, Mr. Osagie Okunbo, said the visit is essentially meant to assure the leadership of the National Assembly that the IOC/OPTS will make its memorandum on the Bills available to the relevant Committees of the National Assembly during the public hearing.
He said that it is important to ensure that the PIB that will be passed is one that will essentially promote investment.
“Our primary concern is that at the end of the day, we both lay the years of uncertainty to rest, but even more importantly, that a bill that is passed eventually is one that we can all be proud of and the one that we can say will encourage investments in all parts of the oil industry,” Okunbo stated.