By INALEGWU SHAIBU
ABUJA – THE Senate in response to repeated protest from civil society groups and students has commenced deliberations on the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, vowing that the bill will be passed before May, 2011.
Senate President, David Mark who presided over plenary, yesterday, when the bill was being considered assured that the Senate will pass the PIB into law before the end of its life span.
He said: “This is one bill that we must pass before the end of the life span of this Senate.”
Although Senator Mark observed that the bill was presented to the senators at a very short notice, the Senate, however, considered and passed clause one of the bill at its Committee of the Whole.
But just after the passage of clause one of the PIB, Senator Mark then suspended deliberations on the bill pending the resumptions of the Senate slated for the 19th of April, to allow Senators acquaint themselves with the details of the bill.
According to him: “We will suspend this discussion on the bill. If we resume, we will continue further deliberation on this bill.”
Senate’s decision to deliberate on the bill was applauded by the coordinator of Civil Society Coalition for PIB Campaign, Rev. David Ugolor who was at the gallery to witness Senate proceedings.
He described the decision as a direct response to the yearnings of the people noting that the passage of the bill will transform Nigerian oil industry and benefit the people immensely.
His words: “We want to applaud the leadership of the Senate for the step they took this afternoon to get the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) listed and read clause by clause and had now accepted clause one and adjoined to another legislative day.
“On behalf of the Coalition of Civil Society Campaigning for PIB, we want to also urge them to ensure that when they return to the next legislative sitting they will accord priority to PIB.”
He, however, urged the senators to use the recess to study the bill to enable them expedite action on the bill upon their resumption, saying, “Like the Senate President rightly mentioned, we would like to say that the members of the Senate should take time within this period to ensure that every technicality that could slow down the passage of the bill is resolved within the period while they go on recess and when they return the bill will be passed immediately.