The new Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) recently signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, could still be amended, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has said.
Mr Lawan stated this on Wednesday while fielding questions from journalists after a brief ceremony at the Presidential Villa where Mr Buhari announced the setting up of an implementation committee for the new law.
Since the president signed the bill into law, ignoring certain concerns therein, there have been mixed reactions, with many particularly from the oil producing areas lambasting the president.
The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) said the act was callous just as the some governors in the South South region expressed displeasure particularly at the three per cent share allocated to host communities.
Speaking on the way forward, Mr Lawan said the act could still be amended if brought to the National Assembly.
“So this is something we all have to address with some optimism and hope that it would be okay. But because we are human beings, no act of human beings could be perfect,” the top lawmaker said. “So when we are able to see issues, the National Assembly is there. Bring them for amendment.
“Even the most difficult issues can still be brought back to the National Assembly. If it is worthwhile to do so. But I believe that there is no need for us to be emphasising the problems rather than the prospects.”
While praising the 9th assembly for work done, the Senate President also warned against the misuse of the funds allocated to host communities.
“But you know from zero to over 500 million dollars and with time, such issues will be further addressed but I want to also caution that it is not the 500 million dollars that is more but how we are able to prudently and transparently deploy this 500 million dollar in the host communities,” he warned.
“This time around, there should be no excuses for anybody to tamper with this money. The host communities have suffered enough, even when NDDC was established, I’m sure it was established because of the host communities’ issues and yet the host communities did not get much attention.
“This time, the host communities have been specifically mentioned and these funds should go there. We want to see people who will be appointed, taking this as trust and do what is right. Of course, there will be so much employment and jobs especially in the midstream of the value chain. This midstream has not been in existence so to speak. What we have is the upstream and then, the downstream. When our refineries will be better and more will be established, I’m sure the value chain will have opportunity for more Nigerians to have jobs and so on. I believe that this is one very historic and important moment for us as a National Assembly, this Ninth National Assembly and of course a very historic moment for this administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“This is something that previous administrations tried and as hard as they tried, they could not do it. This is one Bill that saw the faces of so many people between the executive and the legislature in the past and yet it could not be passed. The ninth National Assembly by the Grace of God had done the magic and the President had signed it and today we have a Petroleum Industry Act. Glory be to God,” Lawan added.