Senate President Ahmad Lawan on Wednesday said the Senate will pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) before the end of 2020.
The Bill is meant to overhaul the petroleum industry, entrench efficiency and transparency in the upstream and downstream sectors, bring operations in line with international standards.
It also seeks to increase government revenue from oil and lay down a strengthened legal and regulatory framework for the Nigerian oil industry.
But efforts to reform the nation’s petroleum industry in the last two decades have not yielded result.
Lawan spoke about the bill while inaugurating the 70 Standing Committees of the Senate at plenary in Abuja.
The Senate President urged security-related committees of the Senate to ensure the overall review of the nation’s security in “architecture and structure” to curb the rising security challenges in the land.
He also urged the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government to cooperate with committees of the National Assembly to accomplish their tasks.
Lawan said: “Our petroleum industry is almost stagnant; it has for long be in need of profound reform. Our oil and gas-related committees are, therefore, expected to work hard to take the lead in our determination to reform this vital sector.
“It is the desire, indeed the design of this Senate, that the PIB is passed before the end of 2020.”
The Senate President regretted that the nation’s security agencies had continued to perform below desired standards in providing tight security for all citizens.
He said: “As security is a fundamental responsibility of government, no amount of investment is too much.”
Lawan stressed that senators expected total cooperation of the Executive arm of government to enable them discharge their legislative duties.
“The Senate expects the honourable ministers and heads of agencies of government to be forthcoming and responsive to the engagement requests of our committees.
“Our committees will undertake regular oversights with a view to ensuring that government programmes and projects are properly executed for the benefit of our citizens,” he said.
Lawan explained that as standing committees are the engine rooms of the legislature so are the MDAs to the Executive.
“This is why there is need for cooperation, consultation, partnership and synergy between the two arms of government.
“The MDAs are hereby called upon to harness the opportunity of the existence of the committees in the execution of their mandates. We must have a unity of purpose,” he said.
Lawan said the inauguration of Senate’s standing committees yesterday was to make the senators fully ready to perform their functions.
Also yesterday, the Senate directed its committees on National Planning, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and the Diaspora to come up with a legal framework to regulate the inflow of aids into the country.
It regretted that 60 per cent of foreign aids were usually lost to transaction costs, wastage and capital flight to the donor countries through the implementing contractors.
The resolution followed the adoption of the prayers of a motion, titled: “The need to make development aids more effective to work for Nigerians,” sponsored by Senator Yahaya Oloriegbe.
The Senate also directed the National Planning Commission to develop a policy framework that would create mechanisms for the development, cooperation and aid effectiveness in Nigeria.
It also mandated all its relevant standing committees – that oversee Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) – who are beneficiaries of development aids/grants to request for, analyze and consider such aid/grants in the appropriation of funds for the MDAs’ activities.
The Senate advised State Planning Commissions and Houses of Assembly to domesticate and implement Federal policies and laws that would enable the states to achieve aids effectiveness.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan thanked his colleagues for their interventions.
The Senate President described the issue of aids as an important item that would be part of the legislative agenda of the Ninth Senate.
He said: “Let me say this is one of those very important items to form our legislative agenda because aids to Nigeria, particularly, should not be treated like it is treated elsewhere in other countries that are less than Nigeria.
“We must be able to know exactly what the aids are coming for, and then streamline them with our national developmental objectives.
“So, the Chairman of Diaspora and NGOs, you have the task of engaging the National Planning Commission together, of course, with the Chairman of the Committee on National Planning to ensure that we know what the processes and procedures are and the regulations and guidelines.
“If we are not satisfied, then we have to come up with a legal framework that will ensure that if there is any aids to us as a country, our people benefit from the aids.”
In his lead debate, Senator Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe, who represents Kwara Central, urged the Senate to know that Nigeria, a developing country, receives aids from bilateral developed countries and multilateral organisations.
The senator noted that the aids cover health, education and water, among others.
He urged the Senate to note that Nigeria is not an aid-dependent country “as the donor support to the country is about five per cent of the national budget. However, in real monetary terms, this is a large amount”.
Most senators supported the motion.
The four prayers in the motion were unanimously approved when Lawan put them to voice vote.
Also, the Senate received report of its ad hoc committee on the Ninth Senate Legislative Agenda.
Committee Chairman Adamu Aliero (Kebbi Central) presented the report.
The consideration and adoption of the report will take place today.
“This is to enable Senators time to read and digest the report for effective contributions during its debate,” said Lawan.
The Senate President, on assumption of office, pledged to design a legislative agenda that would ensure effective performance of senators.
Aliero listed many areas that would ensure youth empowerment, reduce youth unemployment, boost poverty alleviation to ensure that 100 million Nigerians are lifted out of poverty in the next four years, as part of the plank of the agenda, among others.
The senator representing Kebbi Central said the Senate would also work to further block revenue leakages, back anti-corruption agenda of the Federal Government and make procurement processes less cumbersome.
He said the Open National Assembly policy would ensure that its budget always remains in the public glare.
“By throwing open the budget of the National Assembly, Nigerians will know that we have nothing to hide,” Aliero said.
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