By Henry Umoru
National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole on Tuesday took a swipe at those critics who are knocking President Muhammadu Buhari of signing a Bill into law from London, saying that the President of the country can govern from anywhere.
Speaking in Abuja when he led members of the APC National Working Committee, NWC on a visit to the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan and other Principal Officers of the APC in the Upper Chamber, Oshiomhole said that Nigeria as a country has gone beyond what he described as Mungo Park where a President is expected to only function from his base.
According to the APC National Chairman, President Buhari signed the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract, PSC Amendment Bill into law on Monday in London at the Nigeria house.
The APC National Chairman who disclosed that the party has been Monitoring the activities of the 9th Senate under the leadership of Senator Ahmad Lawan as the President of the Senate said that the Upper Chamber has performed extremely well especially with the cultivation of what he termed, an unusual, but very fruitful bipartisan working relationship.
Oshiomhole said, “I was also excited to see Mr. President sign into law that Act in London. Again a couple of implication on this. That like you the President recognized that if you can manage it as quickly as you did and come out with such fundamental amendment that has such enormous impact on our national revenue, he as President also has to do the needful. I think by signing into law at the Nigerian House in London, it shows that the wherever the President is, he is Presiding over Nigeria and with the benefit of modern technology we have passed the Mungo Park era.
“So signing it in London for me has also made several statements. Namely, that where ever national interest is involved, the President is on duty and wherever he is he is presiding. I also salute his assenting to the Bill as fast as he did and even at the Nigerian House in London.”
Recall that President Buhari has temporarily relocated the Presidency to the United Kingdom where he signed the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract, PSC Amendment Bill into law on Monday.
Recall that the President while in London on Monday, announced the signing of the Amendment to the Deep Offshore Act.
The development where the President did not officially handover to his Vice, Yemi Osinbajo to act in his absence where he would have taken some very serious decisions on very germane and National Issues may have given room for critics to raise some constitutional issues.
Recall that President Buhari left Saudi Arabia on Saturday where he spent five days on an official trip, then moved to the UK for a private visit which the Presidency said would last till November 17.
It would be recalled that President Buhari had during his foreign trips including while on long medical vacation in London, allowed his Vice, Osinbajo to act as president following the transmission of letters to the National Assembly in line with Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution.
The section reads: “Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or that he is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary such functions shall be discharged by the Vice-President as Acting President.”
Speaking further on the achievements recorded so far in the 9th Senate with Senator Ahmad Lawan as President, Oshiomhole who called for a more robust bipartisan working relationship among the Senators who are of the APC, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the Young Progressives Party, YPP for effective development, said that National interest should be paramount and not personal interest.
Oshiomhole said, “Usually when things don’t go well, people are loudest in criticizing when they go well they take it for granted but we thought that this one is worth acknowledging. But perhaps most outstanding is the way the National Assembly under your leadership has passed into law the amendment to the Deep Offshore inland basin Production Sharing Contract that promises to increase the revenue of Nigeria substantially.
” Many of us are aware even while I was still in the Nigeria Labour Congress completely non-partisan, we know that there have been attempt to amend this law but the lobby group as represented by the IOCs, have appeared to be so strong that they have overwhelmed the National Assembly over the years.
“And I think it is in your credit Mr. Senate President that you resisted all those temptations. On a lighter note, I will say that when the oil companies come lobbying, the entire environment can be quite oily and you know to walk firm on oily platforms is a statement of courage, integrity, commitment to national interest and your will to ensure that you put Nigeria’s interest first before any other consideration. Including even individual temptation.
“And even on this issue, we also want to extend the same compliment to the PDP members in the National Assembly because we didn’t hear a discordant on this, including YPP – all the opposition parties. Where you have a clear Senate leadership that has the capacity to engage across party divide, issues are properly articulated that people can see that what is at stake is not partisan interest but national interest, it is possible to find common ground to carry everybody along.
“So that you passed that law under five months or so, under your leadership is a laud statement about what Nigerians are to expect and what you are already doing in the interest of our great nation. It is prayer that God will continue to give you courage, wisdom, and the skill to whip everybody into line to ensure that national interest takes precedence over and above any other consideration and that you are able to resist the temptations arising from the powers that have denied this country the passage of this law over the years.”
The APC National Chairman who noted that it was necessary to speak to the quick passage of the law, because even though every Nigerian knows the problems of the country, “what is missing that level of integrity you require to subordinate your personal interest when the forces are unleashed and submit to national interest. It is this difference that I believe the National Assembly under your leadership across party divide has brought to bear. Nigerians ought to celebrate you.
“We are as party, we celebrate you, we celebrate the Senate, we celebrate our APC members. We celebrate the PDP members because we monitored the debate and there is no evidence that is any party divide. National interest was at play. We have come to appreciate you and under your leadership, the Senate would be a formidable national pillar that Nigerians can rely on in our journey to take the nation to the next level.”
Responding, the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan who noted that the 9th Senate was working for Nigeria, said that all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs have defended their budgets.
Lawan said that after the amendment of the PSC and when the bill will start to operate, at $55 to a barrel, Nigeria will receive about $1.5billion. Going up to $60 (per barrel) it is close to $2billion which he described as a monumental quantum leap actually.
Lawan said, “We have a Senate today that is primed right from the start to deliver to Nigerians. We campaigned and said that we want a Senate that will work for Nigerian. This Senate works for Nigeria indeed. And this is just the beginning of what we intend to achieve.
” We expect that we pass the budget at the end of this year, before the year runs out but next year going forward, we have other very compelling and important and significant legislations – the Petroleum Industry Bill, we have a lot of revenue issues, we intend to look into legislations on the revenue-generating agencies, the scopes of their mandates.
” We want to deal with these decisively and expeditiously because we believe that the Petroleum industry in Nigeria needs to have proper legislative framework to ensure that we maintain the businesses that have decided to come to our country. The IOCs have nothing to fear. It is going to be a plain level field.
“They will have their day to suggest what they think it should be like but one thing is that we must ensure that Nigeria receives the appropriate revenue and rewards from its endowments. We passed the amendments to this Deep Offshore and inland basin Production Sharing Contract. It may interest you to know that Nigeria receives $268million only before this amendment.
“After the amendment when the bill will start to operate, at $55 to a barrel, Nigeria will receive about $1.5billion. Going up to $60 (per barrel) it be close to $2billion. That is a monumental quantum leap actually.”
Also present at the meeting were the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo- Agege, APC, Delta Central; Senate Keader6, Senator Abdullahi Yahaya, APC, Kebbi North; Deputy Leader, Senator Ajayi Borrofice, APC, Ondo North; Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, APC, Abia North; Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Abdullahi Aliyu Sabi, APC, Niger North and Senator Ahmed Baba Kaita, APC, Katsina North.