The National Assembly should be ready to override President Muhammadu Buhari if he refuses to give his assent to the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill that was transmitted to him by lawmakers in April this year, about 18 civil society organisations have said.
According to the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Partners for Electoral Reform, Centre for Democracy and Development, Zero Corruption Coalition, and 14 others, the President’s approval of the PIGB will show that he is serious about his anti-corruption campaign.
Speaking on behalf of the 18 organisations at a press conference on the state of the nation in Abuja on Wednesday, the Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Rafsanjani, stated that if Buhari refused to assent to the bill, he should be ready to tell Nigerians the reasons for his decision.
Rafsanjani said, “We feel that if the President is serious about the fight against corruption and reforming the extractive sector, especially the oil and gas industry, then he should not waste time in assenting to that important piece of legislation.
“This is because the bill will help to ensure efficiency, improve transparency and accountability, and provide division of labour within that industry. So, if the President refuses to give his assent to the bill, he needs to explain to Nigerians why. And if his reasons are not convincing, then we will go to the National Assembly to call on them to override him.”
The National Assembly split the PIB into four, which are the PIGB, Petroleum Industry Fiscal Framework Bill, Petroleum Industry Administration Bill, and Petroleum Host Community Development Bill.
The PIGB has been passed by both chambers of the National Assembly and a joint committee of the assembly harmonised the bill on March 31, 2018, and transmitted it to the President for assent in April.
Also expressing worry over the silence of the Presidency with respect to assenting to the PIGB, the Programme Manager, CISLAC, Kola Banwo, had earlier stated that it was important to let the President know that his approval of the bill would make him to make history.
“The President will make history if he assents to this bill and clear the doubts in the minds of many people, who believe that he will not give his assent to the PIGB. He is on the threshold of writing his name in gold and that will be if he assents to the PIGB,” he stated.
An energy lawyer, Chigozie Hilary-Nwokonko, also stated that it was in the best interest of the President to approve the bill, adding that if Buhari refuses to assent to the bill, the National Assembly should step in.
“His signing of this bill will tell on his legacy as a person and the truth is that he has all to gain by assenting to the PIGB. But if he doesn’t do it, the National Assembly should veto him,” Hilary-Nwokonko added.
The immediate past Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, Dr. Sam Amadi, had earlier said that Buhari might not assent to the PIGB.
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