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Deep Offshore (Amendment) Act and Tinubu’s politics

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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, the Lord of Bourdillon.

Specifically, he has found in it an attack point to assail the leadership of the Eighth National Assembly under the leadership of Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki. We all know that throughout his lifetime, Tinubu will continue to belly-ache over the fact that Saraki and Yakubu Dogara beat his candidates to emerge as Senate President and Speaker respectively in 2015. That is why Tinubu has continued to attack the leadership of the last 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, he decided to use the new Deep Offshore law as a double instrument to curry favour from the Muhammadu Buhari Government as well as to attack his enemies in the previous National Assembly.

However, one is at a loss what Tinubu is celebrating in that law. As somebody with a background in the Petroleum Industry, it should be clear 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 a clear provision which allowed the 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 take 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. Also, 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 Saraki, Dogara and the leadership of the last National Assembly? Why is Tinubu thinking he can draw political advantage from the signing of the law and viciously attacking the fine gentlemen that he hated so much for beating him in the game of power through 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 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 criminalising 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 the 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, because he wants to be president in 2023 and believes Buhari is the one that can make him president and he must do everything to appease Buhari.

Even Buhari and his loyal kitchen cabinet members are seeing through Tinubu’s deceptive game. They know he is only doing all this jumping up and somersault because of his 2023 ambition. They know they cannot trust a man who once claimed that he will support Buhari even if he will spend all four years of his second term on the hospital stretcher. The man is just a pretender who wants power at all cost.

The real reactionary element is Tinubu. A man without ideology who will change at the drop of a pen whenever it suits his ambition and his insatiable hunger for the acquisition of wealth is not real. He is always fake in everything.

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. Very soon, we are sure his newfound love, the Deep Offshore (amendment) law, will wane and he will move on to something else.

Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour is a public policy expert, an architect and was the PDP Lagos West Senatorial candidate in the 2019 National Assembly elections.


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