The Nation (Nigeria)

Senate okays harmonised report on PIB

- From Sanni Onogu and Tony Akowe, Abuja

THE Senate yesterday passed the conference committee report on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

The report pegged contributi­ons to the host communitie­s developmen­t trust fund at three per cent of the operating expenditur­e of oil companies in the region.

Efforts by Senator Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa Central) to seek a further increase of the percentage failed.

Dickson said: ”On the day we concluded work on this bill, some of us disagreed with the provisions and some of us quietly took our leave and we were monitoring developmen­ts and managing challenges.

“Some of us reached out to opinion leaders explaining the challenges...”

The Senate President insisted that the session was meant to approve the conference committee’s report on the PIB and not to suggest new amendments.

Senator George Sekibo dissociate­d himself from the three per cent fund approved for host communitie­s.

Senator Matthew Urhoghide (Edo South), citing order 43, wanted to make a comment after the Bill had been passed but Lawan ruled him out of order.

The House of Representa­tives stepped down the laying and considerat­ion of the conference committee report after a rowdy session over the reduction in the five per cent earlier passed by the House.

The report from the conference committee between the House and the Senate, which harmonised the two versions earlier passed, was to be laid and considered by the House for considerat­ion before the annual vacation.

However, tempers flared when news filtered into the chamber before the commenceme­nt of plenary that the conference committee recommende­d three per cent as against the five per cent passed by the House.

The shouting match led the House going into an emergency executive session which lasted for almost one hour.

When the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiami­la, called the House Chairman of the Conference Committee and Chief Whip, Mohammed Tahir Mongunu, to lay the report, the lawmaker sought the permission of the House to step it down, which was granted.

Reporters were not informed of what transpired at the executive session, but it was evident that the suspension announced by the Chief Whip who headed the adhoc committee on the PIB was part of the outcome of the executive session.

Mongunu had earlier told reporters shortly after the House passed the bill that members of the House going for the harmonisat­ion would defend the five per cent recommenda­tion for host communitie­s.

It was gathered that both members of the Senate and House conference teams to the harmonisat­ion stuck to their earlier recommenda­tion of three and five per cent, leading to the need to break the tie.

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