By Kemi Yesufu
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has described the ninth House as capable of passing critical legislation.
According to the Speaker, the House started on good note before going on break, a pointer to its commitment to ensuring that bills that will grow the economy and make life better for Nigerians are passed on time.
Gbajabiamila in his speech welcoming members from their annual recess listed some of the important bills to include the Petroleum Industry Bill and another Bill prohibiting Estimated Billing in the power industry.
He said: “Before we adjourned the House on 25th July 2019, a significant amount of work had already started. We had begun legislative action through the consideration of 13 number of bills including Electric Power Sector Reform Act (Amendment) Bill 2019, Physically Challenged (Empowerment) Bill 2019 and Student Loan (Access to Higher Education) Bill 2019.
“We had also in that time received and debated 57 number of motions on a range of issues including the Non Remittance of Contribution into the NSIFT by the Federal, States, Local Government and Some Public and Private Organisations.
“Work on those Bills and those motions will continue, even as we continue to receive, debate and act on other new legislation .All ADHOC Committees to wind up and handover to standing committees by September 30th. I fully expect that in this session, the House of Representatives will consider important legislation such as the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB)”.
“I believe that we in this 9th Assembly are ideally suited to surmount the obstacles that have mitigated against passage of this essential reform legislation which is important if we are to properly address the structural, operational and policy challenges and inefficiencies in the Nigerian petroleum industry, and position the industry to best serve the interests of all the Nigerian people.
“In addition to the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), we will see the reintroduction of the of Bill prohibiting Estimated Billing in the power industry, intended to put a permanent end to the wastefulness and unfairness created by an unreliable and arbitrary system that imposes unforeseen costs on individuals
and businesses alike, the Education Bank Bill, designed to ensure that no child in this 21st century is unable to get a quality tertiary education in Nigeria dues to a lack of means and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Bill which will serve to broaden the Local Content Act and ensure the original intent of the Act is made real in the lives of our people”, he added.
On the xenophobic attacks against Nigerians of which the leadership of the House condemned strongly, Gbajabiamila reiterated his commitment to pledges made on assisting Nigerians affected by the violent attacks in South Africa.
The Speaker said: “We stand by the commitments we made in our public declaration and we will continue to work to ensure that those who have been hurt by these attacks are properly compensated for their loss. The House commends the efforts of the Federal Government of Nigeria in addressing the issues that gave rise to these unsavoury events, as well as holding the government of South Africa accountable through the available diplomatic channels.
“We will continue to support these efforts by whatever means is required of us. We will also seek to take whatever active measures we can to help the returnees resettle in Nigeria and to resume productive lives here at home.
“I invite the House to at this time join me in commending the actions Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and a respected voice in the politics of that nation who openly and without equivocation, condemned the attacks and directed his organisation to provide aid and protection to our citizens facing harm.
“He has since then, never relented in calling out the failures of the government that allowed the attacks to occur and to continue. In a similar fashion, Sir Allen Ifechukwu Onyema, Chairman of Air Peace Airlines provided his organisation’s services without charge, trepatriate those Nigerians who were willing to return home to escape the carnage that had been visited upon them. He acted without consideration of cost, of tribe or personal interest. He acted in the best traditions of patriotism and love of country. Our country owes these men a debt of gratitude”.