The Senate Joint Committees on Petroleum Upstream, Downstream, Gas and Judiciary handling the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) will hold public hearing in three zones of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
A source within the committee who confided in us, listed the zones and designated places to include Lagos in the South-west, Port Harcourt in the South-south, Kaduna in the North-west and Abuja.
According to the source, who said dates of the hearing in each zone had not been fully agreed upon, all stakeholders in the oil industry would be invited to the events.
He also said in preparation for the formal take-off of the public hearings, a preliminary workshop had been scheduled to take place this morning in Bolingo Hotel, Abuja.
The aim of the workshop, he said, was to sensitise members of the committee with the general features of the bill as well as the modus operandi of the agenda.
He also disclosed that as part of the agenda on the bill, the joint committees would visit some onshore-offshore platforms in oil producing areas with a view to ascertaining whether the onshore-offshore dichotomy really existed.
He also said the committees had already outlined fixed working plans on how it would handle the bill, beginning from the preliminary workshop taking place today to the time of the final presentation of its reports to the Senate for approval.
The committee is already behind schedule as upon passing through the second reading on March 7, the joint committee was given six weeks to carry out further legislation on the bill including the conduct of public hearing and report back to the Senate within the period.
In another development, the persistent agitation for special status for Lagos State as a former Federal Capital Territory (FCT) may soon become history if the current bill in the Senate, seeking special recognition for the state sails through.
Tagged “A bill for an Act to Establish Special Economic Assistance Programme for Lagos State,” the bill is sponsored by Senators Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central), Ganiyu Solomon (Lagos West) and Olugbenga Ashafa (Lagos East).
The bill has passed through the first reading in the upper chamber.
According to the bill, Lagos deserves special economic assistance in recognition of its status as the former capital of Nigeria as well as the volume of institutions and economic activities therein.
Further, the bill which advocates the designation of the state as a Special Area, wants the federal government to make financial grants to the state every year as supplements to the revenue accruable to it from the federation account.
Section two of the bill states that such financial grants shall be determined by the president on the advice of the state governor in consideration of the total revenues accruable to the federation account directly from taxes, levies, duties and other charges on individuals and corporate bodies as well as transactions within Lagos State.
The bill also stipulates that the financial grants shall not be less than one per cent of the share of revenue allocated to the federal government in the federation account which shall “be payable only upon appropriation by the National Assembly in the Federal Government budget for the relevant year.”
It further states that the financial grants shall be aimed at building new roads, bridges, railways and other public infrastructure; maintaining the existing infrastructure to keep them serviceable and ease the movement of traffic across the state; improving facilities in public primary and secondary schools; building police stations, prisons and other security establishments as well as procurement of equipment for public health institutions.
It also states that the grants shall be used for promotion of a conducive socio-economic environment for the assistance of federal institutions and related activities as well as the improvement of the state government’s capacity to host the increasing number of personnel and activities in the state.
The bill, which also provides for the expenditure of financial grants made under the Act through the approval of the House of Assembly each year, also stipulates the establishment of a committee to be known as the Joint Lagos State Development Committee.
The committee, according to the bill, shall consist of six members with three of them each appointed by the President and the governor of Lagos State.
The committee shall among others, prepare a report to be presented to the president and the governor respectively not later than September 30 of each year with information on the level of activities and revenues from federal institutions and agencies in Lagos.