The Senate on Tuesday finally began the debate on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). The bill was supposed to have been debated in December 2012 before lawmakers went on Christmas holidays but was stood down as soon as the motion was moved by the Senate leader, Victor Ndoma-Egbe.
The bill was sent to the National Assembly last year by President Goodluck Jonathan and the lawmakers gazetted it immediately to avoid its duplication.
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, and officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had twice briefed federal lawmakers last month as part of government’s efforts to lobby the National Assembly to pass the bill.
During the debate on the bill on Tuesday, the Senate first gave the floor to northern federal lawmakers, who expressed deep reservations about a section in the bill which stipulates that 10 percent of funds should be paid to oil-bearing communities.
A federal lawmaker, Senator Ahmed Lawan faulted the section, saying the host community development fund has no place in the PIB and that the 13 per cent derivation given to Niger Delta states is sufficient.
Senator Lawan also blamed leaders in the Niger Delta for failing to utilise all the allocations given to develop the region.
But Senator Ifeanyi Okowa faulted this argument, saying the host community development fund is to be gotten from 10 per cent of the net worth of the oil companies and would not in any way shortchange other states in the country.
The Senate President, David Mark had on Thursday announced that three days had been scheduled this week for the second reading of the bill.
The debate continues on Wednesday.