The House of Representatives says it will pass a more holistic Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) that will encompass interests of host communities and fiscal regulation of the oil industry.
Chairman of the House Committee, Petroleum Upstream, Rep. Victor Nwokolo (Delta-PDP), stated this on Thursday, while speaking to journalists at the sideline of a workshop organised by the committee for House members on the bill.
Nwokolo said that the lower chamber of the National Assembly would begin the consideration of the bill in a few days and that it would be given accelerated hearing.
He explained that the bill recently passed by the Senate was only one-third of the entirety of the document before the national assembly.
According to the lawmaker, the committee decided to organise the workshop to bring the lawmakers up-to-date on what the house has done in respect of the PIB in the past.
He said, “The bill has gone through first reading and by next week, it will go through second reading and will be given accelerated attention that it requires.
“It is true, like you said, it has been passed in the Senate, but what the Senate has done, they have only taken a fraction of it, only one-third of it; what is referred to as the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) is what they have passed.
“But, in the case of the House of Representatives, we are taking it holistically.
“Like you read in the newspapers, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) and Ijaw National Congress (INC) say that they do not agree with what the Senate has done, because the issue of host communities has not been addressed.
“If you are also following the proceedings in the House of Representatives, you will agree with me that we are taking it holistically, because we have dealt with the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB).
“We have also gone through the fiscal and the host community bill, so we are taking it holistically, so that no section of it will be left out.”
Nwokolo explained that the house resolved to treating the bill holistically in consideration of what had happened and what was obtainable in other parts of the globe where petroleum was a natural resource.
He listed Alaska, Mexico and Venezuela as some of the countries the house used as case study, where host communities were all stakeholders.
He said, “Coming home here, look at the case of the Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG), have you ever heard that NLNG is being shut down for a day?
“The basic reason is because they have taken care of the host community; this is what we want to address.
“The essence of this workshop is to broaden members’ knowledge for them to go home to begin to think; this contentious issue of host community, is it going to be restricted to oil-producing communities?
“When you are talking about mineral resources today, it is not only petroleum we are talking about.
“By the grace of God, the government is trying to give a drive towards other mineral resources like coal that you find in Plateau, Kogi and other areas.
“So, when you talk about host communities, it is going to be applicable to all parts of the country so that it will not be seen as empowering only Niger Delta region or oil-producing communities again.”
The lawmaker, therefore, urged the media to take the right information about host communities to Nigerians.
“We thank God that you journalists are here in your numbers; you will help us to pass the information to Nigerians, because they have a different view when you are talking about host communities.
“So, what we are doing here today is to refresh members so that by the time we start discussing the bill, it will move faster than we expect.
“This is because it has been three or four weeks since it went through the first reading,” he said.