The Presidency has explained why President Muhammadu Buhari withheld assent on the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, made the fact known to State House correspondents in Abuja on Wednesday.
He maintained that none of the reasons for the president withholding his assent adduced by the media was true.
Enang said the president had since communicated why he declined assent to the bill although the communication had yet to be read in the two chambers of the National Assembly
He explained: “By Presidential communication of July 29, 2018 (one month ago) addressed to the Senate and House of Representatives, Mr. President did communicate decline of assent to the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, 2018, for constitutional and legal reasons stated therein.
“By convention, it is inappropriate to speak on the content of Executive Communication addressed to the Legislature until same has been read on the floor in plenary.
“But I plead for the understanding of the legislature that due to the misrepresentations in the public domain and apparent deliberate blackmail which if not promptly addressed may set both the executive and the legislature against the public and even the international investment community, this be excused.”
Enang some of the issues raised related to provision of the bill permitting the Petroleum Regulatory Commission to retain 10 per cent of the revenue generated.
He said such provision unduly would increase the funds accruing to the Commission to the detriment of the revenue available to the federal, states and local governments as well as Federal Capital Territory.
The presidential aide also said that there were “some legislative drafting concerns, which if assented to in the form presented will create ambiguity and conflict in interpretation.
He said: “In deference to the National Assembly, I please state very limited of the rationale communicated to the legislature, to wit:
a) That the provision of the Bill permitting the Petroleum Regulatory Commission to retain as much as 10 per cent of the revenue generated unduly increases the funds accruing to the Petroleum Regulatory Commission to the detriment of the revenue available to the Federal, States, Federal capital Territory and Local governments in the country
`b) Expanding the scope of Petroleum Equalisation Fund and some provisions in divergence from this administration’s policy and indeed conflicting provisions on independent petroleum equalisation fund
c) Some legislative drafting concerns which if Assented to in the form presented will create ambiguity and conflict in interpretation.’’
Enang expressed the hope that the above explanation might have offered answer to some of the issues raised “until the communication is read on the floor”.