The Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Rapulu Nduka noted that people in different parts of the country had been making comments on the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act, adding that some of them were feeling short-changed.
He stated that lawmaking is one of the responsibilities of the legislature and since there are legislators from all states of the federation, then there should be proper representation.
Nduka said, “The purpose of having legislators from all states is that they should be able to debate laws before they are passed in order to ensure that those laws are made in the interest of every region.
“If the governors believe that some parts of the Act are unconstitutional, then by all means, let them approach the courts. They should go to court to challenge the aspects, which they believe are unconstitutional.”
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Babatunde Ogala, stated that the PIA is a law that has been in the works for a very long time and we are not oblivious to the reservations of different commentators and groups, especially in the South-South.
He said, “I believe it is a step in the right direction since we now have three per cent, where we once had nothing. However, the Act can still be amended if it proves to be unsatisfactory.”
On Wednesday, A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome, called on state attorneys general to challenge the Federal Government on the PIA. He faulted the decision of the President to sign the law and called on state attorneys general to challenge the Federal Government at the Supreme Court.
According to Ozekhome, the entire Act is a mere ruse in monstrosity, artifice and design, carefully crafted, incubated and delivered to actually do irretrievable violence to the principles of federalism and the doctrine of separation of powers ably propounded in 1748 by Baron de Montesquieu, a great French philosopher.
He stated further that, “The Act seeks to frontally attack Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution, which provides that all revenues accruing to the federation shall be paid into a Federation Account from which sharing shall be made among the three tiers of government.
“This is unconstitutional and it must be struck down in accordance with Section 1(3) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria. In a sane clime, the cash cow, the NNPC, ought to be unbundled to make it more productive, transparent and accountable to the Nigerian people.
“But most curiously, the Act has strengthened its hand of non-accountability and non-responsibility.
“How can the Federal Government alone have shares in the only viable cash cow of Nigeria to the total exclusion of the other three tiers of government, major stakeholders, oil-bearing communities and the long-suffering people of the Niger Delta?
“How can an Act of Parliament, rather than assuage and ameliorate the sufferings of a beleaguered people, further compound them by reaffirming the people’s perilous status as slavish hewers of wood, drawers of water, masseurs of ego and side-line onlookers in the exploitation and use of their God-given wealth through their natural resources?
“The 36 state attorneys general should immediately approach the Supreme Court and challenge the Federal Government’s impunity and the act of exclusive lawlessness and legislative rascality by invoking the original jurisdiction under Section 233 (1) of the 1999 Constitution.”
While answering questions from journalists shortly after a brief ceremony at the Presidential Villa, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan disclosed the strategy adopted by the 9th National Assembly to get the PIB.
The Senate President said, “Everyone knows that the Petroleum Industry Bill suffered a lot of hiccups in the National Assembly previously but when we came in 2019, both chambers identified the passage of the PIB as one very strong, fundamental, critical and strategic bill that we must pass within the life cycle of this 9th National Assembly.
“And by the Grace of God, we redefined the way to go about it because we would have learnt from the mistakes of the past on the issue. And what we emphasised and that worked for us to achieve what we did was to ensure that we work very closely with the executive arm of government right from the conception of the bill itself.”