Petroleum Bill now ready for Buhari to sign, says Dogara

With the passage of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), by the House of Representatives, on Wednesday, its Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, sign it into law.
He made his appeal, on Thursday, on the heels of the passage of the legislation by the Senate last year.
The same exhortation came just as Reuters reported, on Thursday, that the federal government has filed a claim against U.S. bank, JP Morgan Chase, for more than $875 million, over negligence in the transfer of funds from a disputed oil block – Oil Prospecting Lease (OPL) 245 – to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited in 2011.
Dogara said that the new legislation would be transmitted to the president within the next few days, explaining that the Eighth National Assembly had to move on and pass its own version of the bill, following the failure of the executive to present a draft bill to the National Assembly.
In a statement issued by his Special Adviser, Media and Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan, Dogara described the passage of the PIGB as a historic and landmark achievement by the Eighth National Assembly after it was first introduced to the parliament by late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2008.
Under the current National Assembly, the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), originally submitted by Yar’Adua, and a revised version by his successor, Goodluck Jonathan, was broken up for ease of passage.
The PIGB, deals strictly with the corporate and governance structures of the petroleum industry, especially as they relate to state-owned operators in the sector.
However, the aspect of the bill that deals with the fiscal and licensing regime for oil and gas players, as well as the host community fund, will be addressed in accompanying legislations.
Failure to legislate on a new fiscal regime for the sector, over the years, has remained a sticking point for oil multi-nationals, holding up billions of dollars in investment for the oil industry.
Dogara said that with the passage of the long-awaited bill, the petroleum industry would  witness drastic improvement, attract investors and open up the sector, as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) would be unbundled with the creation of other bodies.
He, however, noted that work would still continue on other aspects of the Petroleum Bill by the National Assembly, in accordance with the Eighth Assembly’s legislative agenda.
The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, said, on Thursday, that the PIGB was awaiting the assent of the president, following its passage by the House.
Speaking during plenary, Saraki said the passage of the bill, which had been pending for about 10 years, was a great achievement for the Eighth National Assembly.
He congratulated the lawmakers for the feat, saying it was a historic milestone.
Saraki disclosed that the remaining two components of the Petroleum Industry Bill – the host community fund and fiscal bills – would be handled by a joint committee of both legislative chambers to avoid the need for a conference committee for the harmisation of the legislation.

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