By Franklin Oseya
The Petroleum Industry Bill is no doubt a very important piece of legislation in the making, which is why it has generated much controversy.
The latest we heard on the bill was when members of the House of Representatives deliberated on it with a view to its final passage. But it was eventually stood down for what Chairman House Committee on Rules and Business, Ita Enang cited as non_conformity with standard and format amongst other deficiencies. We commend the Hon. members for refusing to bow to pressure to pass the bill in its controversial state until a thorough appraisal as well as exhaustive deliberation is carried on it.
As an advocacy group, we were amongst those who earlier called for a speedy passage of the bill, but upon the allegation from credible quarters that the bill had been tempered with to suit the interest of the IOCs, calls for caution in passage of the bill has become necessary.
It makes less difference that the House has been on the bill for the past four years, and that investment in the oil and gas sector is being stultified by the non passage. Better we get it right from the outset than turn out an imperfect piece of Legislation.
Let it be said from the outset, that this is a moment of great challenge to the Federal Legislators, as they face the reality of either brazing up to the IOCs once and for all and save our oil industry from the clutches of foreign interests, or kowtow to the intense lobby of the IOCs to water down the bill.
In a way, what is playing out is a subtle reenactment of the ideological battle between crass capitalism and the need for government to temper the market with legal regulation in order to safeguard the economic interest of the common man. The National Assembly should be patriotic enough to protect the nationalistic focus