The much-expected Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and the Electoral Act Amendment Bill have scaled second reading in the House of Representatives.
Both important pieces of legislation were passed by the lawmakers after they were read for the second time during Tuesday’s plenary at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.
Leading the debate, the Leader of the House, Alhassan Doguwa, noted that the PIB has been a very important piece of legislation that has been in the works since the Fifth Assembly.
He was, however, hopeful that the 9th Assembly would be able to make the history that has eluded the Nigerian people.
The lawmaker stated that the bill was presented to the Presidency for assent to be granted but that was not the case.
He praised the vision of the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who engaged the Presidency to ensure it succeeded this time.
In his contribution, the Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Musa Adar, stated that the PIB came at a time when Nigeria cannot afford to lose scarce resources, especially as a direct fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He believes with the discovery of oil in different African countries, Nigeria needs to develop an oil sector that will ensure maximum profitability which will create wealth for the nation and its people.
The lawmaker added that this would reduce the agitation and unrest in parts of the sparked by what he termed social inequality.
On his part, the House Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, stated that the PIB was long overdue as it sought to institutionalise good governance, ease of doing business, as well as the expunging of sharp practices in the oil sector.
”The world is looking to go green in less than 20 years… and it makes it pertinent for Nigeria to gain maximally from the oil sector and look to explore other oil products before petroleum goes obsolete as a commodity,” he said.
Amending The Electoral Act
After a series of deliberations on the bill, it passed the second reading and was referred to the Ad-Hoc Committee of the House on PIB for further legislative scrutiny.
Thereafter, Aishatu Dukku from Gombe State moved a motion for the second reading of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill and it was seconded by her colleague from Akwa Ibom State, Onofiok Luke.
Dukku informed the House that the amendment of the bill became necessary to address the anomalies in the nation’s electoral system.
The Deputy Chief Whip of the House, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, on her part, was worried that 48 hours might be too short for political parties to substitute a candidate who died in a bye-election with a credibly vetted replacement.
In his response, Speaker Gbajabiamila gave an assurance that the section of the replacement in the bill would be looked into.
While another lawmaker, Muhammad Wudil, requested an explicit explanation of the time needed to elapse for the cancellation of elections at any given poll when a card reader failed to work, Robert Tyough called for the use of proper technology in the conduct of elections to reduce human errors.
For Olumide Osoba, there should be a distinction between the roles played by parties, agents, candidates, and the electorate, while Onofiok called for the strengthening of electronic voting and the cancellation of over-voting results.
However, Speaker Gbajabiamila stated that electronic voting may fail in rural areas and the votes of the people there must be made to count.
Like the PIB, the Electoral Act Amendment Bill was voted for and passed the second reading.
It was also referred to the House Committee on Electoral Amendments for further action.