The National Assembly is set to transmit the final harmonized copy of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent. This followed the adoption of the report of the Conference Committee of PIGB at Senate plenary, three months after the upper legislative chamber initially adopted the report.
The initial copy could not be transmitted to the President by Clerk to the National Assembly due to the legal advice received from the National Assembly Legal Services Directorate, which observed some grey areas in the versions passed by the two chambers.
Presenting the report, Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Upstream, Tayo Alasoadura (APC, Ondo State), explained that while the committee rectified some contentious areas recommended by the Legal Services Directorate, others were retained.
For instance, the directorate observed that while Clause 13 of the proposal establishes the Board of the Nigerian Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NPRC), there is no provision for secretary of the board.
In its recommendation, the committee said: "The Committee accepts the request to create the office of the Secretary for the Commission who shall also serve as the (non-member) Secretary of the Board, while rejecting the request for creating a Secretary for the Board of the Commission.
"In line with this, the request for creation of Secretary for the Board in Section 13 is denied while the request for same in Section 20 of the Bill is granted."
The fears expressed by the directorate that the exclusion of the national petroleum company from the Fiscal Responsibility Act and Public Procurement Act under Clause 102, would lead to issues of accountability and transparency, justified its decision to retain the provision.
According to Alasoadura, "The exclusion of the operation of the Nigeria Petroleum Company from the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 and the Public Procurement Act is designed to insulate the company from the bureaucratic draw-backs to which most government-owned companies and agencies are subject."Lawmakers adopted the recommendations of the panel, which retained all other provisions as passed by the conference committee three months ago.
With this development, the National Assembly is again expected to refer the bill to its Legal Services Directorate for cleanup to enable the Clerk of the National Assembly transmit same to the President for his assent.