The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and the Electoral Act Amendment Bill have passed the second reading in the House of Representatives.
The lawmakers passed the two critical and widely anticipated bills on Tuesday upon their resumption of plenary.
The PIB was sponsored by the House Leader, Alhassan Doguwa, while the Electoral Act amendment bill was sponsored by the chairman of the House committee on electoral matters, Aisha Dukku.
Controversies had trailed the two bills for years following unsuccessful attempts to pass them into law.
Moving the motion for the second reading of the PIB, Mr Doguwa said the bill, when passed, would create jobs and also address security challenges in the country. He said it would tackle kidnapping, banditry, and terrorism.
Lending his voice to the debate, the minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu, said the passage of the bill was long overdue.
He said the house would give it speedy consideration because green energy has made oil almost useless.
Also, the chairman of the PIB ad-hoc committee, Tahir Monguno, said the present composition of NNPC makes it difficult for the oil sector to thrive.
The revised legislation, which is an executive bill, amongst other things seeks to scrap the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).
The bill also seeks to create the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission, and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.
Since 2008, the National Assembly has been attempting to pass the PIB so as to improve transparency and accountability in the country’s oil sector.
The bill has been sent back and forth from the National Assembly to the executive since the fifth Assembly.
In 2012, then President Goodluck Jonathan had sent a new version of the bill to the legislature.
The House of Representatives passed the bill in 2015, but the Senate did not give it its concurrence.
The President Muhammadu Buhari administration again presented the bill to the 8th Assembly but as four separate bills.
The 9th National Assembly has vowed to break the jinx by passing the bill.
ELECTORAL ACT AMENDMENT
The National Assembly had since the last Assembly tried to amend the Electoral Act, which was last amended in 2010 by the 7th National Assembly.
The 8th Assembly under the leadership of Bukola Saraki amended the bill three times but President Buhari declined assent on each occasion.
The opposition and critics of the government had accused the president of withholding his assent to avoid legalising the use of card readers for elections.
INEC has been using the card reader for elections but the use is yet to be given legality by the country’s electoral law.