The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Rep. Joseph Akinlaja has said that the speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is crucial in solving the persistent fuel crises in the country.
Akinlaja told newsmen in Abuja that the committee was working assiduously to ensure that the bill was passed before the tenure of the current 8th national assembly ends.
The lawmaker said that three out of the four segments of the bill were currently before the committee of Petroleum Resources and would soon be presented to the House.
“The assurance as given to us as a directive by the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara is that this PIB must be concluded during this tenure.
“And this year by the grace of God we not only hope we believe that the bill will be passed by the National Assembly and sent to Mr President for assent.
“This is our own bill and it was segmented to enable us work thoroughly on it.
“We split it into four bills and three of them is already before our committee and we will soon present it to the House for passage into law.
“We have held so many seminars, workshops, retreats, so I can assure you that it is going to be passed and it will be a solution to fuel scarcity because as they say in a town where there is no law, no offence would be committed.
“When the laws are there, enforcement comes in and definitely it would solve the problems,’’ Akinlaja said.
The lawmaker who represents Ondo East/West Federal Constituency of Ondo decried the country’s dependence on importation of refined fuel.
According to him, it is a shame that we are importing fuel and every committee that was set up always assured government with deadline to address the problem but failed.
“By 2013 there was an assurance that importation would stop, 2013 has come and gone. Also in 2017 and now we have another benchmark 2019 that we are looking up to.
“During our tour of the four refineries, two in Port Harcourt, one in Warri, and one in Kaduna, we saw a lot of decay which is a product of so many years of neglect of the turnaround maintenance which ought to take place once in two years.
“ And sometimes six to eight years, it is not done,’’ he said.
Akinlaja also said that the committee would intensify surveillance on petrol stations to ensure adequate supply and distribution of petroleum products across the country.
While expressing worry over dearth of personnel in the Department of Petroleum Resources to check erring petrol stations, he accused some marketers of exploiting the gaps to divert fuel to neighbouring countries.
Akinlaja said that the issue of legality of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) subsidising the price of fuel will take the centre stage when the national assembly resumes from the Christmas break on Jan. 16.
It could be recalled that National Assembly joint committees on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) on Jan. 4 organised a one-day public hearing to investigate the cause of the fuel crisis recorded in the country in Dec. 2017.
“That is an issue we are going to have when we resume next week because at our joint committee level, we have decided to bring it up that this is our discovery during the holiday.
“Definitely the House will bring it up and I am sure we are going to deal with that because it is wrong for any agency to spend money without appropriation.
“That is the impunity we talk about as they cannot be executive and at the same time discharging the duties of the legislature.
“Every arm has its own area of jurisdiction,’’ he added.