13th November, 2019
By Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour
Since President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law on November 4, 2019 the amendment to the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act, Cap D3, Laws of the Federation (LFN) 2004, it has become the swan song for Mr. Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the APC at large.
Specifically, he has found in it an attack point to assail the leadership of the Eight National Assembly.
He had written an article in a national newspaper and even in a speech presented on his behalf yesterday at a book launch in Abuja during which he used the new Deep Offshore law as a double instrument to curry favour from the Muhammadu Buhari Government as well as to attack his perceived enemies in the previous National Assembly.
However, one is at a loss as to what Tinubu is celebrating in this “new” law. As somebody with a background in the Petroleum Industry, it must be apparent to him that the government did not need the amendment of the old law to derive the benefit that it is now expecting from the new law.
The old law had clear provision which allowed government to review the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) once oil price is above $20 per barrel or after every five years. In fact, the first review of the PSC ought to have taken place in 2004 but it was not done.
Though the Directorate of Petroleum Resources (DPR) gave a notice for the review in 2007, nothing happened. Also, the expected review in 2013 and 2018 was not done,and these are executive actions.
The Buhari administration came into office in 2015 and did nothing on the PSC till late 2019 when it rushed a bill to the National Assembly that was equally passed in a hurry.
What then is the fault of the leadership of the last National Assembly? Why does the Lion of Bourdillon think he can draw political advantage from the signing of the law and viciously attacking the leadership of the 8th assembly based on the amendment of a law that conferred no new advantage on the nation?
In his speech at the Abuja book launch on Tuesday, he described the leadership of the Eighth National Assembly as “reactionary elements that fought for business as usual and against reform” and added that the “ new National Assembly (is) committed to progressive reform”.
This statement should make any serious minded Nigerian to laugh heartily. Tinubu who claimed to be a “progressive” with an experience in the Senate, though for only 18 months under a military arrangement, should know what a genuine legislature is. Is the present National Assembly what a genuine democrat should be proud of?
A National Assembly which is processing a law to establish a commission on hate speech and criminalizing freedom of speech is Tinubu’s ideal of a “progressive National Assembly”? A legislature that is working on a bill to suppress the operation of the social media is Tinubu’s model of a “progressive” law making body.
A law making body that is debating a bill on astronomical increase on the Value Added Tax even when members have not seen a copy of the bill is a “progressive” one because Tinubu wants to be in the good books of President Buhari.
A National Assembly that prides itself as a lackey of the executive and ready to pitch tent with the Presidency against the people is “committed to progressive reform”, according to Tinubu.
If Tinubu is a progressive, he will speak out on some of the retrogressive, reactionary and anti-democratic bills and actions coming out of the current National Assembly. Where is a true progressive when a country desperately needs one?
Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour is a public policy expert, an architect and was the PDP Lagos West Senatorial candidate in the 2019 National Assembly elections.