Against the backdrop of full deregulation of the petroleum sector by the Federal Government and the consequent increase in fuel pump price, the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) has called on the National Assembly to expedite action on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) before it.
The Executive Director of PLAC, Clement Nwankwo, made the call on Friday while fielding questions from reporters after he met with the Acting Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Arc. Ojo Olatunde Amos, in Abuja.
Nwankwo also urged the lawmakers to repeal and re-enact the Electoral Act to guide against irregularities in the electoral process witnessed during the 2019 general elections and subsequent exercises.
He added that it was high time the PIB is passed to reflect the new new regime of a fully deregulated petroleum sector in the country.
When asked what should be the focus of the National Assembly on resumption from its vacation, Nwankwo said: “The PIB is critical and it has been here for too long. It is important that the National Assembly takes quick action on the PIB because there is so much going on in the petroleum sector.
“The Federal Government said it has removed fuel subsidy, yet, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is so much involved in what should be private commercial activity.
“So, the National Assembly needs to have the PIB dealt with immediately. For me, I would say within the year, the National Assembly should conclude business on the PIB,” Nwankwo said.
He also pointed out that the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) needs complete overhaul following experiences from the 2019 general elections.
“Electoral reforms is critical as well. It think the National Assembly needs to conclude amendments to the Electoral Act.
“Indeed, not just amendment. We had advocated recently for the repeal and re-enactment of a new electoral law.
“There has been a lot of experience from the 2019 elections – from Kogi, Bayelsa and now Edo is happening this weekend.
“We think that with all of this knowledge and experience, the reforms of the Electoral Act needs to happen very quickly,” he explained.
On the ongoing efforts by the National Assembly to review the 1999 Constitution, Nwankwo said: “There are conversations around what is called restructuring and it means so many things to so many people.
“So the conversation around Constitution review also is very important.
“I think that the National Assembly’s ad hoc Committees on Constitution review need to get into quick business and expedite action on the proposals for amendment.”
Earlier, the Acting Clerk to the National Assembly, Arc Ojo, during a meeting with the PLAC delegation, said the National Assembly management plans to create a forum of serving and former clerks for the purpose of consultation.
Ojo noted that the over-centralization of decision-making and inadequate stakeholders’ involvement are significant problems in developing countries which have led to high level of corruption in many countries.
“This has necessitated my resolve to improve on the parliament’s joint task with PLAC to proactively promote our developmental process in good governance, democracy and above all, greater transparency and accountability,” Ojo said.
He said that the National Assembly would soon create a forum of serving and former clerks to enhance consultation.
“Our quest for knowledge and robust consultation is further driven as were are considering the need to create a forum of former and serving Clerks at the National Assembly and State levels, to promote the spirit of consultation from time to time.
“There is no doubt that, like its executive counterpart, the National Assembly needs a lot of think tanks and stakeholders’ participation to transform and function more effectively,” the acting CNA said.