By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said the Ninth National Assembly will do things differently to break the jinx with the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) next year.
The upper chamber, according to Lawan, will as a matter of urgency prioritize the consideration of the Petroleum Industry Bill alongside reforms of the Electoral Act when it returns from the Christmas break in January.
The Senate President made this disclosure at a media briefing of Editors, Bureau Chiefs and members of the Senate Press Corps on Monday in Abuja.
“The Petroleum Industry Bill was first introduced in the National Assembly in 2007 but is yet to be passed in its entirety.
“The National Assembly will this time around adopt a different approach to make the passage of the PIB a reality.
“We want to see a situation where the Legislature and the Executive work very closely to have a PIB that will attract investment into the oil and gas sector in Nigeria.
“We want to create an investment climate that will be competitive. We know some other countries have this product; therefore we have to be competitive. We have to create an environment where the businesses make profit.
“This is a journey that involves everyone. We want both government – and that includes the legislature and executive – on the one hand and other relevant stakeholders in the sector, particularly the IOCs (International Oil Companies) to work together to ensure that this environment we are trying to create is an environment that will work for all of us.
Lawan said the Electoral Reforms Bill is also of great priority to the National Assembly.
“The Electoral Reforms Amendment Bill is a priority because of the urgent need to improve our electoral processes and secure the democratic gains that we have made in the Fourth Republic.
“We want to pass the Bill well ahead of the next electoral cycle in 2023 and avoid the political heat and pitfalls that imperiled the efforts of the eight National Assembly which passed the same bill close to the last general elections.
“We are not oblivious of the interest and concerns some of these bills have generated from the public. But, we must not forget that lawmaking is a rigorous process that allows for all sides of the argument to be heard and the true will of the people established before a bill becomes law.”
“This Senate and indeed the ninth National Assembly will not pass any bill that is not in the national interest. Ours is and will remain a Senate that will always work for Nigerians,” Lawan said.
The Senate President stated that in the last six months of his Presidency, the Senate recorded a feat with the passage of six critical bills needed to accelerate the Nigerian economy.
He added that the bills would complement the successful implementation of the 2020 budget which was recently passed by the National Assembly and return the country’s annual budget cycle to the Janaury-December timeline.