By Olusegun Emmanuel, Abuja.
The Senate on Monday vowed to pass Petroleum Industrial Bill(PIB), the Bill on Constitution amendment and the Electoral Act Amendment Bill before expiration of the current 7th National Assembly session.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Ita Enang, who gave this assurance while briefing newsmen ahead of Tuesday’s resumption said senate had concluded arrangements to prioritise the pending critical bills before it, taking into consideration, the limited time available.
Enag explained that the senate was aware that the remaining time available for its legislative activities was limited because its annual recess would terminate in September when the political parties would start their primary elections.
Critical bills that have been pending for critical consideration before the Senate and by extension before the National Assembly for over two years now in the current 7th Assembly included; the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), the Bill on Constitution amendment, the Electoral Act Amendment Bill among others.
On the PIB in particular, Enang, reassured Nigerians that the bill would be eventually passed because the committee working on it had made appreciable progress with high expectations of submitting its report on resumption.
He said, “As a member of the committee, I can authoritatively confirm to you that the PIB is one of our prioritised bills. It had passed second reading and we are working towards submitting our report for the third reading and final consideration of the senate.”
He also pledged that the sections relating to the conduct of the elections in both the Constitution amendment and the Electoral Act would be given serious attention as soon as the senate resumes.
He said the senate was aware of the INEC timetable and would do everything possible to perfect all aspects that relate to the election at least six months before the commencement of the exercise, just as he explained that bills already passed by both chambers requiring harmonisation and concurrence, would be taken care of.
However before Enangâ€™s assurance, it would be recalled that contrary to promises made by him and the Senate President, David Mark in January this year on expeditious consideration of the said bills, none except the 2014 Budget was considered by the Senate throughout the 12 weeks of its legislative activities from January 21 to April 10 2014, the day the Senate went for Easter recess.
A situation already making some Nigerians to be expressing fears that the PIB for instance, which was supposed to revolutionise the oil and gas sector in the country, may not see the light of the day in the current senate just as it suffered similar fate in the sixth senate.
More so, when the Senate in line with its calendar, would embark on a two week recess in June to end the current legislative year and upon its return, go for its annual eight-week summer recess which ends in September, the very month electoral process for the 2015 general election will commence nationwide at party levels.
Enang had in January this year while reeling out the agenda of the Senate in the year as regards critical bills consideration and other legislative matters said â€œThis year, we will be very serious and time conscious about the Appropriation and other sensitive bills already listed knowing that in the course of the year, there will be too much politicking and the political parties and the legislators may be a lot engaged in it.
“Since we are all products of political parties, we can allow legislators to share their time between legislation and the affairs of their political parties. It is a peculiar year and we are going to treat it peculiarly.”