By Jimitota ONOYUME
PORT HARCOURT:Â Â CLERK of the National Assembly has been told to immediately make available to Nigerians and other stake holders in the oil and gas sector, the true copy of the Petroleum Industry Bill before the House.
Rising from its emergency meeting,Â one of the member associations of the Petroleum and Gas Senior Staff Association, (PENGASSAN),Â known as Producers Forum , said there were several versionsÂ of the bill in circulation, a situation it viewed as a probable ploy by the federal government and itsÂ agencies to conceal the true bill from Nigerians.
The oil body said some Nigerians had relied on what it described as the fake version of the bill to give support to the passage of the bill.
The Forum calledÂ on the Clerk of the National Assembly to permanently resolve the confusion created by the different versions of the bill in circulation by releasing the true copy to the media and on the internet. The group in its communiquÃ© signed by the duo ofÂ the Chairman and Secretary,Â Comrade Victor OlleyÂ Â andÂ Comrade Peter O.
Akpenka, also viewed theÂ pressure on the National Assembly to pass the bill before Christmas asÂ part of the ploy to see that the bill was passed before Nigerians would come to know its true content.
The group called for anotherÂ public hearing on the true copy of the bill to be released by the clerk, noting that if the House ignored the call and then go ahead to pass the bill, the body would have no choice but to ensure indefinite shut down of oil and gas operations in the country.
The Forum further noted with dismay, the deliberate transfer of the oversight functions of the National Assembly to an unelected office of the Minister of Petroleum who is not directly accountable to the Nigerian people.
It also viewed this as an attempt by some powerful persons in high places to corner the commonwealth and foist their will on the silent but helpless majority.
Noting that the body would continue to protect the interest of its members, it warned oil firms yet to allow its staff unionise to do so.
The statement further condemned the sackingÂ of some members of PENGASSAN by one of the oil firms and gave the firm two weeks within which to recall the sacked workers or face the wrath of the group.