Governors under the umbrella of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) yesterday cancelled a meeting scheduled to discuss the implications of the recently assented Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).

THISDAY learnt that all things been equal, at today’s National Economic Council (NEC) meeting, the issue would form the main agenda.

The NEC meeting is always chaired by Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo.

A statement by the Head, Media and Public Affairs, NGF, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, had stated that the 33rd Teleconference meeting of the Forum was to hold on Wednesday, 18th August, 2021 to discuss the fallout from the PIA, Water Resources Bill and Withholding Tax.

“Other items on the agenda according to Mr. Okauru include an update on the refund of Withholding Tax (WHT) and Stamp Duties, the Nigerian Postal Service Bill, 2021 and Collection of Stamp Duties, and the recently signed Petroleum Industry Act where the governors are expected to identify next steps among other issues,” a previous notice of the meeting read.

But Tuesday night, the NGF’s office sent words round that the meeting had been put off.

THISDAY later gathered that the Presidency mounted pressure on the governors to put off the meeting to enable the governors to discuss the PIA’s fallout with the presidency at the NEC meeting scheduled for today.

According to a reliable source, the governors have been engaging the president since the National Assembly sent the bill to the President, but the break by the lawmakers did not help the governors to conclude the engagement.

The source said that the presidency had promised to look into the governors complaints, but were taken aback when they heard about the signing of the bill into law.

It was even gathered that the presidency had assured the governors separately that their positions would be amended before the eventual signing of the PIB.

“We had assurances that the PIB will be sent back to the lawmakers for amendments, but what happened that made it to be signed baffled us, hence the need for the meeting,” a source said.

According to the source, the governors from the southern states were deeply worried that the PIB has been signed into law and urged the secretariat to summon a meeting and ensure that the issues concerning the law features prominently in their teleconference.

Another source from the NGF secretariat said. “One of the basic reasons why the meeting was put off, was to douse the tension generated already in south-south states and handle it with at the NEC level,” assuring that at the end of the day amendments to the act would be sent to the National Assembly once the lawmakers are back from break.

Another source also said, “The aim of signing the PIB into law was first to break the jinx. We now have the PIA. Every further amendments would follow. The PIA is work in progress. It is not a concluded piece of legislation.”

THISDAY LIVE