The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) has passed a second reading in the Senate, paving the way for it to go to specialist committees to be discussed.
The long-awaited bill has been more than five years in the making and previous versions failed to get through the National Assembly.
Billions of dollars of investment into oil and gas production is on hold until it gets passed.
The bill seeks to overhaul fiscal terms and reform the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), amongst a raft of other measures, but several clauses are controversial and likely to be resisted.
Closing debate after a second reading late last Thursday, Senate President David Mark said that lawmakers were united in their opposition to sweeping new powers granted to the Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the current version of the bill.
“We are very united on the fact that too much power is given to the Minister, particularly … where the Minister can grant leases unconditionally,” Mark said.
He went on: “By the time (the bill) … comes back there will be amendments, additions and subtractions … the draft bill that has been given to us is not sacrosanct.”
Mark urged legislators to look beyond regional interests.
“The bill is not north versus south, far from that. Because what is good for the north is also good for the south,” he said, adding the host community fund was “most contentious.”
President Goodluck Jonathan has said that investment in the country’s oil industry was falling because of delays to the passing of the bill.
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