A near empty chamber of the House of Representatives passed the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill on Thursday in a race to beat the expiration of the tenure of the current legislature on Friday.
Only 47 out of the 360 members of the House remained in the chambers at the time the session, which was presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha, considered and passed the bill for the third and final time.
However, the passage of the bill was of no effect as it did not receive the mandatory concurrence from the Senate.
The 7th Senate, which formally rounded off its tenure on Thursday, had abandoned the PIB at the committee stage, a development which rendered the passage by the House an “effort in futility.”
By legislative proceedings, a bill is considered passed only when the passage is done by both chambers of the National Assembly.
The failure of the Senate to pass the bill had transferred its fate to the incoming 8th Assembly.
By implication, the PIB failed to pass at the 7th Assembly.
Ihedioha acknowledged the reality of the situation when he told members that the rest of the work was now left to the Senate to do its part.
However, he applauded the House for keeping a promise it made to Nigerians to pass the bill before the end of the tenure.
He said, “We received a lot of bashing on the PIB, but we painstakingly went through the report clause-by-clause to ensure that a thorough work was done.
“Whenever we had differences on regional or other lines, we resolved them amicably in the course of consideration in the national interest.
“As a House, we have done our part. The rest of the job is now left with the Senate. If the Senate concurs with us, fine; if they do not, the bulk will be passed over to the 8th Assembly.”
The House, which passed the bill did so without some lengthy disagreements among lawmakers for several weeks, slowing down progress.
On a number of occasions, the House had to refer the bill back to the AdHoc Committee on PIB headed by the Chief Whip, Mr. Ishaka Bawa, to re-work some of the disputed clauses.
Most times, arguments tilted toward regional interests as the North and the South fought to protect their interests in the oil and gas industry.