The Senate on Thursday set machinery in motion for diversification of the nation’s economy through bitumen development.
To achieve this objective, the Senate is working on a bill that will help transform exploration and regulation.
The bill sponsored by Senator Jimoh Ibrahim (APC Ondo South), seeks to establish the Bitumen Development Commission for official regulation of bitumen exploration and development. The bill passed the first reading on Thursday.
Senator Ibrahim noted that bitumen can be an alternative revenue-spinning product in Nigeria and the second-highest deposit in the world after Canada.
The proposed commission as projected in the draft bill, should be sited in any of the three towns with high deposits of bitumen in Ondo State which are Ode-Irele, Agbabu and Igbotako.
As proposed in the bill, Bitumen Development Commission when established, would also facilitate the execution of road infrastructure across the country and also create jobs for Nigerians, particularly geologists whose expertise would be needed in its exploration.
In a brief chat with journalists after plenary, the sponsor of the bill, Senator Jimoh Ibrahim, said details of the intendment of the proposed commission, would be made in his lead debate for second reading.
He said, “If the proposed legislation scales through in both the Senate and the House of Representatives with the attendant establishment of Bitumen Development Commission after presidential assent, it would be the first law on exploration, development and possibly exportation of bitumen in Nigeria.”