By Tunde Adetunju, Abuja.
The Senate has told Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, to get his knowledge and facts right before mounting the rostrum at international fora to speak on issues of lawmaking.
He was also advised to refrain from comments that give the impression to the world that the Executive and Legislature are at loggerheads on national economic issues.
Kachikwu had reportedly told an oil conference in Houston, Texas, United States of America, that a disagreement between the Senate and House of Representatives was responsible for the delay in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
In a statement on Monday, Senate spokesman, Aliyu Sahabi Abdulahi said,: “It is funny to read a report that the Minister went to far away Houston to say that there was a disagreement between the Senate and House of Representatives over the PIB which has delayed its passage and that he has been speaking with the House to take the version of the bill being worked on by the Senate. The statement was unfortunate because the Minister was only demonstrating lack of knowledge of how a bicameral legislature functions.
“First, one would have expected that such a critical bill aimed at reforming the oil sector which is the mainstay of the national economy would be a priority of the Minister when he combined the post with that of being Managing Director of the NNPC. The current National Assembly started work on the bill when it waited for so many months without anything coming from the executive branch.
“Again, it is not unusual for there to be differences in the contents of a bill on the same issue being worked on by the two chambers of the National Assembly. There is already an inbuilt legislative processes for reconciling the two versions of a bill through what is called harmonization process by the Conference Committee of both chambers. So, there is no need for a minister to dabble into the process.
“Kachikwu is just jumping into the issue at this point because he knew we will in the next few weeks pass the PIB and we think the remarks he made on the issue was an unnecessary diversion aimed at creating needless controversy.
“As part of our own Legislative Agenda, we had decided long time ago that after the passage of Budget 2017, our next major assignment is to pass the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill and immediately fast-track the process of passage of the Host Community Bill and the Fiscal Regime Bills which are also related to the reforms of the petroleum sector.”