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Agbakoba Seeks NNPC's Proscription

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ABUJA, SEPTEMBER 29, (THEWILL) - The National Assembly was on Wednesday Advised on the need for a law proscribing the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), in response to the fraudulence and secrecy with which it is run. Also, prominent Nigerians, including president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Joseph Daudu, SAN; former Clerk of the National Assembly, Yomi Ogunbiyi; and president of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye, admonished the Assembly to raise the standard of legislation for the overall benefit of the country and its citizens.

A former president of the NBA, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba recommended the proscription while speaking on the topic, Public Expectations from the National Assembly, at the inauguration of the 89 standing committees of the House. Agbakoba based his suggestion on the unwillingness of NNPC to operate its activities transparently, thereby constituting itself to a drain pipe on the nation’s economy.

“How much money is made from the petroleum industry? The present sharing arrangement of 40/60 between the NNPC and International Oil Companies (IOCs) is not working for Nigeria. It is a huge fraud and these are questions that Nigerians expect the National Assembly to ask the NNPC, because the IOCs have been short-changing the Nigerian Economy,” hse argued.

Questioned the legal, Banking, Insurance and Shipping processes going on within the oil industry, he said, “ExxonMobil, for instance spends over $1Billion for its legal services in a year, but no Nigerian law firm is patronised; whereas no Nigerian ship is part of more than five thousand ships that ferrying crude on Nigerian waters.”

He assured the legislators of more popularity with the public if corruption and developmental issues are addressed, enjoining them to seek knowledge across fields to enable them effectively execute their oversight functions and make robust laws.

Also speaking, president of NBA, Joseph Daudu, SAN, urged members of the Assembly to take public criticisms and accolades with a grain of salt, as they only indicate the significance of their offices and responsibilities. He implored them to justify their huge pays, which he said was not really the concern of the average Nigerian. “The time has come for the Legislature to make laws that would standardise development in the country. The machinery for speedy legislation must be well oiled,” he noted.

In a paper titled, Strengthening the Effectiveness of the Committee System, Yomi Ogunbiyi decried the proliferation of committees in the National Assembly, as they only weaken overall legislative performance.

He also expressed worries over the high turnover of lawmakers during each legislative session, saying, “when you have a legislature where members begin from the beginning every four years, there can be no continuity. You cannot have professional legislature without professional legislators.”

In his remarks, President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Mr. Gbenga Adefaye promised the cooperation of the Guild with the Legislature in building a partnership that can develop the country, and advised that no member should serve on more than three committees for effective performance.

Similarly, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Umar Na’Abba, urged the Assembly to work in tandem with other arms of government for the development of democracy. “The committees are the engine room of the Legislature, which has gained optimum performance in the last 12 years of democracy.”