The Nigerian Senate yesterday passed for second reading the touchy Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) with a clear resolve to rework contentious areas of the Bill concerning principally the proposed Petroleum Host Community Fund; the structure of the planned exploration agency to seek new oil finds and perceived unlimited powers of the president and petroleum minister as provided by the Bill.
Thursday's development rubbished early fears that the PIB would be voted out following reported opposition from northern interest. The PIB when put to voice vote was unanimously endorsed without a single vote in dissent.
Senate Committees on Petroleum Resources (Upstream and Downstream); Gas; Legal and Judicial Matters and Human Rights were detailed to subject the PIB to further legislative action including a public hearing. The joint committees are expected to report back to Senate at plenary in six weeks. Chairman, Senate Committee Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Senator Emmanuel Paulker, is to chair the joint committees.
Senators mainly from the north had severally expressed their preference that further legislative work on the PIB be handled by an ad-hoc committee fearing the likelihood of bias by the Senate standing committees, a view the Senate President, David Mark, said was misplaced.
"Some of us here have requested for an Ad-Hoc Committee. But let me ask you my distinguished colleagues, who here is not nationalistic enough? I am not going to get Senators from outside to form an ad-hoc committee. If you believe that a Senator who is in a Standing Committee is not going to be honest enough, is going to be partial and not nationalistic enough if I put him in an ad-hoc committee, how does that change him.
It doesn't, it is the same person. I, as the Senate President, believe that every Senator here has the honour and the integrity to view things from a national perspective not from a regional perspective," Mark stated at yesterday's plenary.