Following the controversy that trailed the passage of the recently signed Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has denied receiving $10 million to manipulate and alter a section of the recently signed Act.
The Yobe born politician claimed that neither him, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, nor any other lawmaker received such amount.
Senator Lawan made this clarification shortly after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa on Monday.
The senate president’s comment was in reaction to reports that some lawmakers are angry with the leadership of the National Assembly having been ‘shortchanged’ in the distribution of a $10 million bribe for the passage of the petroleum industry law.
According to the report, the sum was paid to the lawmakers to approve three per cent operating cost for host communities – a provision in the law.
This was one of the controversial parts of the legislation that divided lawmakers during consideration and passage. While some lawmakers suggested five per cent others wanted three. The latter was approved.
Another controversial part of the law include funding mechanism of 30 per cent of NNPC Limited’s profit oil and profit gas in production sharing, profit sharing, and risk service contracts to fund exploration of frontier basins.
Addressing journalists, Mr Lawan described the report as “unwarranted, unproven and false”.
This is even as he warned Nigerians against misusing the freedom of expression provided in the constitution.
“People say anything…about the President, about members of National Assembly, they call us names and this is part of the intangible dividends of democracy,” he said.
“But we are determined to ensure that the space is wide open for everybody to say whatever he wants to say, but I will advise that don’t say things that are bad because people are inhabited…and recently somebody said $10 million was given to the Speaker and the Senate President to give to members of the National Assembly to pass three per cent host community development fund. That is funny, but also very serious.
“I really want to take this opportunity to take exceptions to those kinds of unwarranted, unprovable, false and fake information being fed to the Nigerian public and the danger people will face with this is you cause unnecessary damage to the reputation of people.
“So, the freedom of expression is there, probably more than anywhere in the world, but I want to caution that Nigerians should always think positive about their leaders and their governments and if they have issues they feel very strongly about, let them speak the truth and we are prepared to tell corrections that that we feel should be able to make us do better.”