President of the Senate, Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan (seated left) during a meeting with the IMF Mission Chief, Amine Mari, at the National Assembly on Wednesday, February 5, 2020

President of the Senate, Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan, on Wednesday, disclosed that the National Assembly has started consultation with the Executive arm of government on a new version of the Petroleum Industry Bill to be introduced in the ninth National Assembly.

Lawan made the disclosure during a meeting with representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) who paid a visit to his office at the National Assembly, Abuja.

Representatives on the IMF delegation are: Amine Mati, Senior Resident Representative Mission Chief for Nigeria; Jesmine Raman; Zainab Mangga; Nanrup Ibrahim; Osana Odonye; and Harrison Okafor.

According to Lawan, the Ninth Assembly in its determination to see to the eventual passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill which defied passage into law since 2007, devised a strategy which deploys constant interaction and collaboration between the executive and legislative arms of government.

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He added that the interface between both arms would birth a new PIB to be drafted from scratch, and which would be passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the President before the end of the year.

“Going forward, the Petroleum Industry bill as referred to, has defied passage over the years since 2007.

“In 2011, there was another effort by the government, that bill was not passed as well. In 2015, there was a legislative effort and the PIGB was passed eventually, but at the end of the day was not signed.

“So, we came up with a new idea in the ninth National Assembly, that the fact that the Executive tried by drafting a bill and bringing it here for two tenures, then the legislature tried to do it on its own, none saw the light of the day.

“This time around, we should actually interact and collaborate more even before the bill is born.

“We are in consultation already, and by the time we are able to fashion out the bill, our committees will swing into action.

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“We believe that this time around, the ninth National Assembly will break the jinx and should be able to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill,” Lawan said.

He added that the economy will get a boost when the National Assembly passes the Petroleum Industry Bill before the end of the year and is signed into law.

Speaking on the relationship between the International body and Nigeria, the Senate President said, “IMF has been a friend of Nigeria for a long time.

“Nigeria needs IMF, we are not contesting this. We have our own challenges and have to borrow resources to implement, particularly the capital part of our budget.

“So, we always prioritize our budget to reflect our infrastructural needs. We want you to always be there to support us, we believe that you can give us advice that will help our economy.”

Lawan also appealed to the International Monetary Fund to support Committees of the National Assembly in the area of capacity building for legislators.

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He noted that such support to relevant Finance Committees would assist in the discharge of oversight functions and guarantee prudence and efficiency on the part of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government.

“The fact that the National Assembly is critical to the development of this country means that you should help us build our capacities.

“Members of the finance committee should be able to have more capacities to discharge their responsibilities, and also when they engage Ministry of Finance or the Financial Institutions, they should be able to have very solid platform to exercise oversight critically to ensuring there is prudence and efficiency,” the Senate President added.