As the seventh National Assembly winds up on May 29, and electioneering campaigns assumed a frightening dimension, giving little chance for any parliamentary business, hope has dimmed for the passage of all oil and gas and transport related bills in the National Assembly.
This is contrary to the promise made by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal that all relevant bills awaiting passage in the National Assembly will be passed before the end of this current legislative session, especially when the tradition is that at the end of any legislative session, the new one starts afresh with the representation of bills in the National Assembly. And this implies that the bill has to go through all the stages required with the new crop of legislators for it to become an Act.
This development has drawn the ire of stakeholders and operators in the different sectors of the economy, raising serious concerns on the effectiveness of the nation’s legislative arm of the government.
Some of the bills awaiting passage in the National Assembly include; Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), National Transport Commission (NTC) bill, National Railway Authority Bill, Port and Harbour Bill, Federal Roads Authority Bill, National Inland Waterways Authority Bill and National Roads Fund Bill.
Sources disclosed that these bills were not passed because of vested interests of some of the multi-national companies resident in Nigeria.
PIB for instance, as the most controversial of all, has polarised the nation’s political class along ethnic divide, while some ex-National Assembly members were paid by some multi-national companies in Nigeria to sabotage the passage of the bill.
A source in Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) confided in MMS Plus Weekly, how foreign companies keep legislators on their pay roll to sabotage indigenous bills perceived as being anti-profiteering and capable of turning around the economy.
According to the National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu, the failure of the seventh National Assembly to pass the bills is a national embarrassment.
He said, “I am talking to you as the president of ANLCA, the bills that are hanging in the National Assembly is a national embarrassment. I don’t see why the National Assembly will be there receiving so much money and doing nothing.
Continuing, he said, “Why will it take them so many years to meet up with what all of us including them have agreed including the petroleum (Industry) Bill. If these bills are passed, and signed into law, it will fulfill all our desire; how come it is not happening?” he queried.
Speaking further, the ANLCA boss said that the present dwindling oil prices and devaluation of the naira would take a toll on the economy and the people of Nigeria, as he advised the stakeholders in the maritime sector to cut their expenditure.
“We are in for a tough time and only those who live by their needs will survive the tough time, not those who live by their wants.”
Substantiating his claims, he said that the government would now rely more on non-oil revenue for survival, a development which he said would lead to adjustment of tariffs on goods in the country as the government hike taxes and levies.
He stated that some luxury items would now carry higher tariffs or face outright ban for the government to be able to meet up with its responsibilities.
He however frowned at the platform where the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria gives room for all comers to register as members of the Council without being substantiated.
He added that the Council could not account for more than two thousand out of the six thousand membership they boasted of even as he said that the association had folded its hands after several of its warnings were ignored.