Chief Timipre Sylva, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources has assured that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) currently before the National Assembly will be passed in the next few weeks.
The PIB, which was first presented at the National Assembly in 2008, is an omnibus law to regulate the entire spheres of the industry.
The bill is intended as a complete overhaul of Nigerian oil and gas sector seeks to among others ensure an increased level of transparency and accountability by strengthening governing institutions to attract investments in the industry.
The minister said that the long awaited bill, when passed into law and assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari would go a long way in bringing the desired efficiency in the oil and gas sector in the country.
“I am very optimist that the PIB will be passed very soon. I have always thanked and commended the National Assembly for their commitment as well.
“I have seen a lot of commitment from the National Assembly; they have gone on retreat because of this and just yesterday, we also engaged and they are very much on the Petroleum Industry Bill.
“From all the engagements that we have had with stakeholders, I believe that the PIB will be passed within a matter of weeks, if not next week, it will be weeks after.
“But definitely, you can see a clear line of sight to the end of the journey as far asthe PIB is concerned,’’ he said.
Sylva said that the PIB would be the foundation of the continued growth of the oil and gas industry, adding “it is unfortunate that the passage was delayed for over 20 years and for very good reasons.’’
He said the delay was because the petroleum industry was at the core of the economy of Nigeria.
“We cannot be changing the laws with that kind of sector too often because people are making long term investments with long term projections based on your laws.
“If you now say you want to be changing your laws very often, the climate will not be stable for investors and that is why it is okay for me that this has taken this long in a way.
“And also, it tells you one other story that if it took us 20 years to pass PIB, then you can imagine that this is not an easy law to pass.
“That means, when we pass it, it can be clear about the Nigerian investment climate,’’ he said.
NAN recalls that PIB had passed all the stages and public hearing at the National Assembly and a committee was set up to finalise the findings on the bill.
At the just-concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit (NIPS), the Speaker of the House of Representatives Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmed Lawan assured that the bill will be passed in June.
Lawan said that the 9th National Assembly would continue to support all efforts to ensure the passage of the PIB.
“We will give Nigeria a fair Act; we will listen to everyone, we have a cooperative approach, so we are working with all the stakeholders to get things done right.
“We have been able to achieve consultation on PIB and we are working with the joint committee and hopefully the bill will be passed in June.
“We are conscious of the fact that we must give Nigeria a legal framework that will help to guide effective utilisation of the huge deposits of hydrocarbon for growth,” he said.