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Lawan: Foreign, local forces against petroleum bill passage

President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, has said that there are forces within and outside the country working desperately to frustrate the consideration and passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) presently before the National Assembly.

 

Lawan disclosed this in a speech delivered yesterday in Abuja when members of the Senate press corps paid him a visit to mark his 62nd birthday. “The PIB is like a demon. That PIB thing, there are people both inside and outside the country who would work against it, but it is going to take the strength of our patriotism to pass it,” he said.

 

According to the Senate president, it took the firm resolve of the National Assembly to pass the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Bill in 2019. He said that the passage of the Bill by the legislature caused an increment to the country’s revenue profile from Deep Offshore activities from $216 million yearly to $2 billion dollars.

 

According to him, the country was losing $1.784 billion yearly for 20 years until the bill was passed by the parliament. Lawan, however, assured Nigerians that the same approach adopted by the National Assembly in ensuring the passage of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Bill would be deployed for the consideration and eventual passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

 

“In 2019, when we said we would pass the amendment to the Deep Offshore – Production Sharing Con tract – people didn’t want it to happen because they stopped it from happening for 20 years.

 

“When it is brought, they’ll come and do something and it will disappear. So, when we said we would do it, some of them came to me and said, ‘you don’t have to do this thing now. It’s not going to work.’

 

“We said, ‘we will try.’

 

The second day they came and said, if we do this (pass the PSC amendment bill), they would leave this country, because that will be against some interests. “I replied: for once, allow us do something for our country. And I laughed, you are not going anywhere. The kind of things you do in this country, where else in the world would you be allowed to do it? So, we are going to do this amendment.

 

“They thought it was a joke. In a week, we finished the amendment. The House 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. He signed it on a Sunday, just to give that amendment the validity that was needed.

 

“For that singular act that we lost billions of dollars, where we were supposed to be given $2 billion, they were giving us $216 million. But from last year after the amendment, it is now $2 billion dollars.

 

“That is what we intend to do with PIB; we will pass the PIB that will ensure that businesses here get a very competitive environment, that people are able to make profit and stay and even invest more.

 

“It is absolutely necessary and incumbent on all of us leaders, to apply ourselves fully to address the various challenges facing  Nigerians.

 

“People didn’t celebrate us, even though they knew what happened. That was what we did for our country, 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 by the grace of God,” the Senate president said. He said that the Senate would, on resumption from the Christmas break on January 26, consider the bill for passage.

 

According to him, PIB is an important legislation that will be given the necessary attention on our resumption. “By the grace of God, when we resume, we will start work on PIB; that is going to be one 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. “We promised Nigerians that we are going to achieve that by the grace of God in the year 2021,” Lawan said.

 

He further pointed out that with massive injection of budget funds into the economy, Nigeria would get out of recession in a few months’ time.

 

Lawan said that to achieve this, implementation of the N13.588 trillion 2021 budget would commence this January, while the capital component of the 2020 budget would be extended to March 31 this year as requested by the executive and approved by the National Assembly.

 

“This will, no doubt, ensure injection of massive funds into the economy and get it out of recession soonest,” he said.

 

The Senate president further declared that the reversion of budget implementation cycle in Nigeria from unpredictable ones of the past to January-December by both the legislature and the executive had increased percentage of implementation and invariably delivery of dividends of democracy to Nigerians.

 

“In 2020, for example, government achieved 97 per cent budget implementation performance, which is the highest since 1999,” he claimed.

 

Lawan, who appreciated his Yobe North constituents for bringing him to the National Assembly, said that he would never betray them, vowing that he would prefer to quit his seat instead of doing those things that were not be in the best interest of his people

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