Rep. Joseph Akinlaja, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), said on Tuesday the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) would solve the current fuel crises in the country.
Akinlaja told newsmen in Abuja that the committee was working assiduously to ensure that the bill was passed before the end of the tenure of the current 8th National Assembly.
The lawmaker said that three out of the four segments of the bill were currently before the committee on Petroleum Resources and would soon be presented to the house for debate.
“The assurance given to us as directives by the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara is that the PIB must be passed before end of his tenure.
“And this year by the grace of God, we not only hoping; we believe that the bill will be passed by the National Assembly and sent to Mr President for his assent.
“This is our own bill and it was segmented to enable us work thoroughly for its speedy passage.
“Three out of the four segments are already before our committee and will soon present them to the house for passage into law.
“We have held seminars, workshops, retreats on the bill, so I can assure you that it is going to be passed and it will bring lasting solution to fuel scarcity in the country.
“When the laws are there, enforcement comes in and definitely the problems will be solved,’’ Akinlaja said.
The lawmaker, who represents Ondo East/West Constituency at the National Assembly, decried the continual dependence on importation of refined petroleum products for consumption by the country.
“It is a shame that we are importing fuel and every committee that is set up always assured government with deadline to address the problem but failed at the end of the day.
“By 2013, there was an assurance that importation will stop, 2013 has come and gone, also in 2017 and now we have another benchmark of 2019 that we are looking up to.
“During tour of the refineries, two in Port Harcourt, one in Warri, and one in Kaduna, we saw lots of decay which is a product of so many years of neglect of the turnaround maintenance which ought to take place once in two years,’’ he said.
Akinlaja said that the committee would intensify surveillance on petrol stations to ensure adequate supply and distribution of products across the country.
While expressing worry over dearth of personnel in the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to check erring fuel stations, he accused some marketers of exploiting the gaps to divert fuel to neighboring countries.
Akinlaja said that the National Assembly would discuss the legality of the current fuel subsidy by Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) when it resumes from recess next week.
The Joint Committee of the National Assembly on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) had on Jan. 4, held a public hearing to investigate the cause of the fuel crisis in the country in December 2017.
“That is an issue we are going to have when we resume next week because at our joint committee level, we have decided to bring it up that this is our discovery during the holiday.
“Definitely the house will bring it up and I am sure we are going to deal with that because it is wrong for any agency to spend money without appropriation,’’ he added. (NAN)