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Buhari rejects assent to PIGB, says bill unconstitutional

…As Atiku cautions President on bill
President Muhammadu Buhari has withheld his assent to the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) for legal and constitutional reasons.

The Special Assistant to the President on Legislative Matters, Senator Ita Enang, however, described as blackmail reports that Buhari rejected the bill because it whittled down his powers as minister of Petroleum Resources.

In a statement made available on Wednesday, Enang said the three major reasons leading to the president’s refusal to assent to the bill is based on the fact that the provisions of the bill permitting the petroleum regulatory commission to retain as much as 10 per cent of the revenue generated,

which unduly increases the funds accruing to the regulatory commission to the detriment of the revenue available to the federal, states, Federal Capital Territory and local governments in the country.

The Presidential aide also cited expansion of the scope of Petroleum Equalisation Fund and some provisions that are in divergence with the administration’s policy and indeed, conflicting provisions on the Independent Petroleum Equalisation Fund.

He said, “Part of the reasons include some legislative drafting concerns which if assented to in the form presented will create ambiguity and conflict in interpretation.

“It was observed that part of the reasons unmentioned involved three issues; whittling down of his power as minister of petroleum resources, failure of any minister consulted to support it, and the lack of any fiscal content of the bill,” Enang stated.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has cautioned President Buhari to have a rethink on the rejected Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB).

Atiku said it is unfortunate that the Buhari Presidency by rejecting the bill has put the combined efforts of the National Assembly in conjunction with the oil majors and host communities in coming up with such a revolutionary idea for the oil industry into futility.

In a release by his media aide, Paul Ibe, Atiku said the reason given by the President for rejecting the bill also betrays the fact that the current administration is out of tandem with global best practices.

“Saying that the bill will whittle down the President’s powers is most unfortunate.

“A leader must be secure in himself before he can secure his or her people. A President is not powerful because he holds the Presidency. Neither is he only powerful because laws confer powers on him.

“In truth, a secure leader brings power and influence to the office he occupies, instead of taking power from that office. He also gives laws the force of power by obeying and implementing them,” he said.

The Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), he argued, will be a great catalyst for Nigeria’s oil and gas sector and has the capacity of stabilising host communities, boosting the nation’s oil reserves and creating the enabling environment that attracts the type of investment that will make Nigeria a world leader in the petroleum industry.

“In recent months, Nigeria became the world’s headquarters for extreme poverty, having overtaken India as the nation with the most people living under $2 a day (81 million people).

If we are to change the situation and bring our people out of poverty, we must support legislation such as the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill.

“As the late great President Ronald Reagan once said, “the greatest leader gets the people to do the greatest things”. The Petroleum Industry Governance Bill will help Nigeria to do great things and I urge President Buhari to put aside his insecurities over the loss of his power and let the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill be,” he added.

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