There are clandestine moves against the actualisation of a new petroleum industry law in Nigeria by forces within and outside the country, Senate President Ahmad Lawan has revealed.
Consequently, Lawan said it would take patriotism on the part of the members of the 9th National Assembly to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) currently before them into law, hence work would resume on the proposed legislation when they resume from the Christmas and New Year holidays.
The senate president spoke yesterday at an informal event to mark his 62nd birthday anniversary put together by his staff and Senate Press Corps in Abuja.
He added that if the petroleum industry law sees the light of the day, it would be a turnaround for the petroleum industry and the nation’s finances.
“By the grace of God when we resume, we will start work on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). That is going to be one heck of a legislation that not only Nigeria but the entire world is waiting for. Because that will change our economy.
“Money will start flowing, so we want you to be in that journey with us, so that you too when the history of PIB passage and assent will be written, your names will be reflected.
“That PIB thing, there are people both within and outside the country who will work against it but it is going to be the strength of our patriotism to pass it,” Lawan said.
The senate president recalled similar experience with the amendment of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act, 1993 before it was eventually passed into law and assented by President Muhammadu Buhari.
NATIONAL ECONOMY reports that the original Act enacted in 1993 was introduced to grant certain incentives to companies operating in the deep offshore and inland basin area. These incentives ranged from reduced royalty rates to lower tax rates to
encourage investments in these areas. While the amendments to the new Act in 2019 are aimed at increasing Nigeria’s earnings from the oil and gas industry to shore up the federal government’s revenue.
“When in 2019, we said we will pass the amendments to the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act here in this House, we have been spending nights, we closed by 2am, 3am, just working to amend that Act (but) people didn’t want it to happen because they stopped it from happening for 20 years. You bring it, they will come and do something and then the thing will disappear.
“So when we say we will do it, some of them came to me and say SP (Senate President), you see, you don’t have to do this thing now. It’s not going to work. I said we will try. So, we started. The second day, they came and say, if you do this thing, we will leave this country because that will be against some interests.
“And I laughed and said, you are not going anywhere. The kind of thing you do in this country, where else in the world will you be allowed to do it? So, we are going to do this amendment.
“In a week, they thought it was a joke, in a week we finished the amendment because the House (of Representatives) was on recess, the day they returned, they concurred. Mr. President knew how important that amendment was, he was in London, and that Bill was flown to him and he signed on a Sunday just to give that amendment the validity that was needed.
“That we lost billions of naira (because) where we were supposed to be given $2billion every year from the last 20 years, they were giving us $216 million. But from last year, after the amendment, it is now $2billion.
“People didn’t celebrate us, that was what we did for our country, maybe we could have gone the other way but I think we are proud of ourselves as members of the national assembly that we have done something worthwhile for our country.
“That is what we intend to do with the PIB, we will pass the PIB that will ensure that businesses here get a very competitive environment, that they are able to make profit and stay and even invest more.
“Because the resources are here, we must get the benefits of the resources here. That business, the IOCs who are here will also benefit from their investments. In fact, oil is everywhere now, so we have to have a legislation that will create a very competitive environment that we can get a way investors in oil and gas from Ghana, from Angola, from Algeria, all to move to Nigeria,” Lawan added.
He noted that the proposed petroleum industry law would be delivered to Nigerians as promised within 2021 even as he called on all and sundry to put all hands on deck in order to make Nigeria forward
“It is absolutely necessary and incumbent on all of us leaders today to apply ourselves fully to address the various challenges facing Nigerians.
“It is not easy and sometimes when you are outside the system, you will think two plus two is four until you get in, then you will discover it’s beyond that arithmetic, but there should be no excuses,” Lawan admonished.