By Abiemwense Moru
A Petroleum Industry Bill seeking to promote host communities participation and local content on Thursday, passed second reading at the House of Representatives.
The bill also seeks to create an environment conducive for business as well as protect health and safety of the environment.
Sponsor of the bill, Rep. Joseph Akinlaja (Ondo-PDP) and others, while debating the bill, said that when passed into law, it would address challenges facing the petroleum sector, especially as it related to host communities.
Akinlaja said that the bill would also provide framework relating to petroleum producing community’s participation, cost and benefit sharing among the government, petroleum exploration companies and host communities.
In his contribution, Rep. Victor Nwokolo (Delta-PDP) said the essence of the bill in its entirety as obtained in other parts of the globe was to make host communities stakeholders in oil activities.
“Coming home here, look at the case of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), have you ever heard that NLNG is being shut down for a day?
“The basic reason is because they have taken care of the host community; this is what the bill wants to address.
“When you are talking about mineral resources today, it is not only petroleum we are talking about.
“By the Grace of God, the government is trying to give a drive towards other mineral resources, like coal that you find in Plateau, Kogi and other areas.
“So, when you talk about host communities, it is going to be applicable to all parts of the country.
“It will not be seen as a means of empowering only the Niger Delta region or oil-producing communities again,” Nwokolo said.
Bill and Memorandum on Legal and Regulatory Framework, Institutions and Regulatory Authorities for the Nigerian Petroleum Industry to establish guidelines for operations of upstream and downstream sectors also passed second reading.
NAN reports that the bills were passed alongside the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB).
The Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara, however, constituted an ad hoc committee to conduct public hearing on the bills.
The committee is headed by the Chief Whip of the House, Rep. Alhassan Doguwa.