Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives

Why Nigeria’s House of Representatives suspends considerations of PIB ─Speaker

*The much debated Petroleum Industry Bill is expected to transform the oil industry in Nigeria but the host community allocation is one of the clauses yet left for consideration even after the National Assembly passed the PIB recently

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Despite the initial euphoria that had greeted the recent harmonisation and eventual passage of the legislation in the National Assembly (NASS), the House of Representatives has stepped down the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) after an hour-long closed-door session.

ConsumerConnect gathered any further deliberation is expected to hold over the decision while the House is on recess.

Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, in his speech on the Floor of the House Thursday, July 15, 2021, explained why the chamber did not adopt electronic voting for the clause-by-clause consideration and passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill and the Electoral Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill.

Gbajabiamila said it would be difficult to deploy e-voting for such huge legislations.

“After multiple failed attempts over two decades, the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) has passed both House of the National Assembly and will shortly be transmitted to the President after proper harmonisation with the Senate.

He assured that the lawmakers would make sure that the system is fully deployed in advance of the House’s resumption, even as the legislative year comes to an end.

While stressing that the work of the legislature never ends, the Speaker said even though the legislators will not be in the chambers making laws and advocating for the people, still, their attention will be required in their constituencies on other engagements relating to their service in the House of Representatives.

Earlier Thursday, lawmakers from the South-South region of the country reportedly had opposed the three percent allocation previously recommended in the harmonised PIB in the Federal Legislature.

The lawmakers were heard chanting “five percent” as against the three percent on the floor of the House, report said.

Senate okays 3 percent allocation to host communities

On the contrary, as members of the South-South caucus in the House were opposed to the three percent approved allocation to the host communities, the Senate, which is the Upper Legislative House, has adopted the three percent allocation in spite of apparent protests by the Senators.

It is noted that the number in dispute is the percentage of the total Operating Expenses (OPEX) the oil companies are expected to contribute to a trust fund created for host communities.

It was learnt that two senators, George Sekibo and Seriake Dickson, from Southern Nigeria, raised concerns over the Senate approval.

Senator Sekibo, report stated, said he is not part of the vote on the allocation clause and Senator Dickson also indicated that his privilege had been breached as his views were not accommodated in the process.

In his response on the process, Senate President Ahmad Lawan was said to have replied that the Senate had taken a resolution on the matter, and could not go back on its decision.

The host community allocation is one of the clauses left for consideration after the National Assembly passed the PIB recently.

The three percent is different from the 13 percent derivation fund, which is paid to oil-producing communities from the Federation Account.

The allocation will come from an entity’s actual yearly operating expenditure of the preceding financial year in the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors, according to the draft of PIB.

All contributions will be deposited in a trust fund for host communities, and the trust fund will enhance peace and cordial relationship between oil companies and host communities.

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