We’ll pass PIB in phases from January – Saraki
From Fred Itua, Abuja
Five months after President Muhammadu Buhari forwarded a letter, urging the Senate to confirm Ibrahim Magu as chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Red Chamber, will commence his confirmation hearing, today.
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who disclosed this at the end of yesterday’s plenary, did not, however, give further details on the modality to adopt for the hearing.
Buhari appointed Magu on November 9, 2015, Ibrahim Lamorde was sacked as EFCC chairman.
Magu has been acting since then.
He is a serving police officer and was head of the Economic Governance Unit of the commission. Magu, if confirmed by the Senate, will be the fourth head of the anti-graft agency, after Nuhu Ribadu, Farida Waziri and Lamorde.
If confirmed, he will be the fourth Northerner, from inception, to head the EFCC.
There have been controversies over Senate’s delay of his confirmation. One report said there are some forces in the Presidency who do not want Magu confirmed as chairman while another report insisted he enjoys president Buhari’s support as substantive EFCC boss.
When his letter was read by Saraki in July, it was not referred to the standing committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes.
On April 20, 2016, Magu and Ekweremadu had an altercation, following the decoration of the latter as anti-corruption ambassador of EFCC by its National Assembly liaison officer.
Magu maintained, then, that the award given to Ekweremadu was of no consequence as the officer acted on his own.
Similarly, EFCC, under Magu’s leadership, is believed to be assisting the federal government’s team prosecuting Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over allegations of perjury and falsification of assets.
Meanwhile, Senate President, Bukola Saraki has said the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) will be passed before the end of January 2017.
Saraki, who spoke yesterday, at a three-day public hearing on the PIGB, organised by the joint committees on Petroleum (Upstream), Petroleum (Downstream) and Gas, said passage of the bill will open a new vista in the oil and gas industry.
Saraki noted: “The petroleum industry remains the mainstay of the Nigerian economy. Oil and gas have been, and will likely, remain for the foreseeable future, Nigeria’s most important non-renewable energy source. The industry contributes over 90 percent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings.”
Speaking on how non-passage of the bill, for almost 16 years, has negatively affected the country, Saraki said: “It is unacceptable that till date, we still import over 90 percent of petroleum products (petrol and chemicals), we flare substantial gas produced, we have damaged our eco-systems and polluted our communities and cannot supply adequate electricity to our homes and industries.
“This situation has undermined our citizens’ standard of living, life expectancy, our national energy security and has resulted to other unforeseen fall-outs like: labour unrest; fuel queues; high cost of delivery of products; high cost of delivery of overall services in the overall economy; and unquantifiable wastage of national productivity as a result.
“The state of the industry globally, today, has heightened and made it imperative that either we comprehensively reform our local industry to have a chance to keep it alive or become extinct. The oil and gas industry is yearning for good…”
governance,competitiveness, transparency, indigenous participation and accountability.”
Saraki also listed what the passage of the bill seeks to achieve. He said: “Create efficient and effective governing institutions with clear and separate roles for the petroleum industry, establish a framework for the creation of commercially oriented and profit driven petroleum entities that ensures value addition and internationalization of the petroleum industry and promote transparency in the administration of the petroleum resources of Nigeria and create a conducive business environment for petroleum industry operations.”
“Let me reassure all stakeholders that this is just the beginning. We will also tackle the issues of downstream, gas and the environment. We are poised and resolved that we will deal with all issues related to the industry, albeit in tranches. This will ensure thoroughness and effectiveness. As a nation we cannot afford any further delay in our effort to reform our oil and gas industry.
“The journey begins now and I assure you that we will guarantee that all of these bills are passed in record time. I wish you all very fruitful deliberations,” he added.
On his part, chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Senator Tayo Alaosoadura, said: “The PIB as we all know, has been lingering as it were in the corridors of the National Assembly for a little over a decade.
“However, the Eight Senate has made the PIGB as one of the key landmarks to revamp the economy and make petroleum industry more efficient. If we must get out of the present recession the country is witnessing and get the economy on the steady path of growth, the petroleum industry must be made efficient and more profit-oriented.
“The call also by the Senate president in rolling out the agenda for the 8th Senate made it abundantly clear that the passage of the PIGB will be one of the landmark successes of the Eight Senate.”
During the 3-day public hearing, critical stakeholders like the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Ministry of Petroleum Resources, International Oil Companies (IOCs), among others are expected to make presentations.