The Director of Information in the National Assembly, Mr Rawlings Agada, has explained that the federal parliament is not in a hurry to transmit the recently passed Petroleum Industry Bill to President General Muhammadu Buhari.

Agada comment followed a question from a reporter during a press briefing on Tuesday.

The assembly official was asked when the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mr Olatunde Ojo, would transmit the document to Buhari for assent.

He noted that the legislature had to exercise great restraint and caution in order to avoid sending such an important bill to the President without doing necessary due diligence, adding that since the two chambers passed different versions and a conference committee had harmonised their positions, the legal department of the National Assembly would have to clean the document up to avoid errors.

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Recall that both the Senate and House of Representatives last week passed the nearly 14 years long bill amid protests and controversy.

While the Senate approved a 3% trust fund allocation to oil host communities, the House of Reps raised it to 5% as demanded by the South-South lawmakers.

Agada, who said he could not categorically state when the clean-up process would be concluded, explained that it was necessary to save the job of the CNA.

He said the CNA risked prosecution if he transmitted a bill that did not represent the exact position of the lawmakers to the President.

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“There is more to the process of cleaning up a bill before the final transmission,” he said.

“The legal department has to go through what was passed by the two chambers and ensure that the harmonised version is in tandem with the position of the two chambers.

“It is after the legal department is satisfied that the harmonised version is in tandem with the position of the two chambers that the bill will be sent to the Clerk to the National Assembly for authentication.

“Given the interest on the bill and the seriousness of the leadership of the National Assembly to keep to the timeline, those working on it won’t delay the process, but I cannot tell you when the process will be concluded.

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“The CNA will also ensure that nothing is left out of the bill since he is also bound by the Authentication Act.

“The Act made the CNA liable to prosecution if in effect, it was discovered that what he transmitted is not what was agreed upon.

“The President cannot assent to it (PIB) without the authentication process. So, it is better that the legal department ensures that it is a clean copy that will be presented to the CNA.

“Having satisfied that the bill is error free, the CNA will then sign the authentication certificate and send the bill to the President for assent.”

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