BLOODY PIB AND RESTRUCTURING: NOT YET UHURU
EVENTS in Nigeria are so intractable and occur with such rapidity that the trouble of each day is more than enough even for a week and get sons of men so confounded.
Just within a week, the Nigerian security forces which have been so helpless and hapless in the hands of terrorist killer herdsmen and bandits surprised the world in a Gestapo operation in bringing Mazi Nnamdi Kanu back to Nigeria from only God knows what country.
President Muhammad Buhari appears to have succeeded with Kanu what he narrowly but tactically missed in 1984 when his military regime drugged and bagged Shagari’s Minister of Transportation, Umaru Dikko, to be flown back to Nigeria but foiled at Heathrow Airport in the UK.
However, whatever the gravity of the allegations against Kanu, which he has often denied, beyond vulgar abuses, he enjoys the presumption of innocence while the State has the burden to prove his guilt in a trial that will no less put Nigeria itself on trial before the international community.
Kanu is now a child of the world and humanity watches beyond the fatal judgment of smiling crocodiles and dancing pythons.
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Just like the Nigerian State tactlessly radicalised Kanu and his followers, it has started with Sunday Adeyemo (Igboho) whose life the security forces narrowly missed in that official banditry operation in his house last Wednesday night.
Of course, only the DSS believed its own story, including the unilateral advertisement of AK-47 rifles, which Nigerians have often seen branded by terrorists in the presence of our security men and political actors in league with professional negotiators with bags full of money in the course of negotiations to free victims of kidnapping and banditry.
Victims of kidnapping and banditry
Rather, even a casual observer of events in Nigeria believes that the only reason for which the life of Sunday Igboho is endangered is his resistance to the rape of women, kidnapping for ransom, destruction of farms and economic activities and wanton killings of people in the Ibarapa area in particular and Yorubaland in general.
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The invasion of his house, including the barbarity of killings and the inexplicable destruction of his property, reeks more of some personal or ethnic vengeance.
The Yoruba self-determination campaign by Igboho, brought about by government constructive complicity and mute indifference (apology to Frantz Fanon) to terrorist herders ethnic militias, is nonetheless conducted responsibly, peacefully within the confines of the Constitution, law and permissible standards of international conventions and, therefore, legitimate.
The crowd of Yoruba nation campaigners who boldly thronged Lagos in spite of the mayhem in Igboho’s home and his absence and notwithstanding the bullying operational armada of the Nigerian security allied forces, inadvertently set in motion the untold radicalisation of Igboho and the adherents of his message, including the symbolism of the presence of traditional worshippers.
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Igboho, from his state of relative obscurity, is irreverently thrown on the centre stage of national discourse, now seeing himself in the ideological image of Ken Saro Wiwa, having conquered fear.
The pro-Nigerian preaching of restructuring by the pacifist elite and their organisations, including the apex Afenifere, is becoming unpopular, if not odious, in the ears of the ordinary Yoruba folks who rather prefer Igboho’s sermons.
PIB and restructuring. The noise that would have traced the passage of the jinxed Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, was drowned in the blood of the citizens killed at Igboho’s house and on which the national parliament stepped to pass the bill.
The cacophony of unwarranted war against freedom of expression and of peaceful protest at Ojota Lagos by the combined team of all Nigerian security forces against armless and harmless Yoruba nation campaigners was so deafening as to pale the PIB into insignificance.
The final product of the PIB is yet to unfold; nonetheless, our people, particularly of the Niger Delta, to which I belong in all ramifications, should be curious at the ease with which the Bill was now passed, having been jinxed since it was first introduced in 2008 by the Obasanjo administration.
Unknown to most restructuring agitators, President Buhari has perfected his restructuring plans, using several Nigerians, including particularly members of the National Assembly, sometimes as innocent agents, apologies to our leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo.
The President only unfolded his restructuring agenda in his recent interview with the Arise Television.
The top priority is land use which the President thought could be wrought as a security compromise on the so-called herders/farmers clash which would force the indigenous people and governors of their states to yield grounds for such programmes as cattle colonies, RUGA, NLTP and Water Resources Bill, all of which have been rejected by the peoples and governments of particularly southern and Middle Belt states as surreptitious land grabbing devices.
The hint last week by the Secretary to the Federal Government, Mr. Boss Mustafa, of plans to amend the Land Use Act, which the National Assembly cannot do because of the constitutional status of the Act, is part of the unrelenting efforts of the Buhari administration to change the land use structure against state control.
It is a government policy brazenly aimed at legalising trespass on the lands of other peoples and nationalities across Nigeria by local and foreign herders of a predominant ethnic nationality. Governments, states or federal, have no powers to compulsorily acquire personal or community land except for overriding public purposes, which cannot be interpreted to include grazing routes for the personal enterprise of other citizens not to talk of foreign nomads.
The current target is the oil and gas and the South-South region in general. The PIB just passed by the National Assembly is meant to douse the tension of restructuring momentarily in the Niger Delta while surreptitiously using it as a veritable weapon to prepare the North for the eventuality of any form of change affecting the federation.
The first subterfuge is the proposed incorporation of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation as a limited liability company to be known as NNPC Limited.
For whatever the legislators feel that is worth, it makes no real difference as the ownership of all shares in the company is vested in the government and held by the Ministry of Finance Incorporated on behalf of the government. With the Minister of Petroleum Resources being the President himself, and of the same region with the Minister of Finance and the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, who will transmute to the CEO of the new company, it is clear that the envisaged changes are only in the imagination of the legislators particularly those of the Niger Delta and the entire South who are thereby deceived.
The approval of “thirty per cent of NNPC Limited’s oil and gas profit in the production sharing, profit sharing, and risk service contracts to fund the exploration of frontier basins” is the most unwieldy provision in the new law.
In the first place, if the amount is meant for exploration to boost existing reserves, why limit the search to and specifically mention the “frontier basins” with obvious legal definition problems in the future. It is an important canon of interpretation of statutes that the expression of one thing is the exclusion of the other because it is reasoned that if the legislature had meant to include a particular thing within the ambit of its legislation, it would have referred to that thing expressly.
Besides, the legislated expenditure of 30 per cent of the profit of the company is a blank cheque which nurtures and nourishes sharp practices ultimately.
Moreover, in the light of the provisions of section 162. (1) which creates “the Federation Account” into which shall be paid all revenues collected by the Government of the Federation..”, it is left to be seen if the National Assembly has power to make law to deduct part of the profits of the NNPC which is payable into the federation account.
The legislative authority of the National Assembly on the exclusive legislative list is “accounts of the Government of the Federation, and of offices, courts, and authorities thereof, including audit of those accounts”.
Host community development fund.
Whether as a commission, corporation or government-owned company, the Federal Government can only fund its Agencies from its own shares of the Federation Account. For instance, the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, is funded, not from the federation account, but by the Federal Government. Ditto for the newly created North East Development Commission, NEDC.
The three or five per cent, as against 10 per cent asked by host communities, is levied on the operating expenditure of oil companies, OPEX, annually as contribution to the host community development fund. It is meant as a quantifiable corporate social responsibility.
The oil producing states are already being blackmailed that such contribution is estimated at some $500 million annually whereas the cost to the federation account of the 30 per cent of the NNPC profit to exploration which may be illusory in several areas is equally imaginary.
For some gerrymandering effect, the Senate claimed to have consulted with the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources to give our people a false sense of belonging.
Those whose hopes were raised by the President’s promise to accede to restructuring once the National Assembly brought the bill to him, now know better.
The PIB and all it represents simply compound the problem of resource allocation and justice in a federation. We agree with PANDEF that “the PIB falls short of the expectations of the Niger Delta people”. It is not an alternative to restructuring. It is not yet Uhuru.
SOLA EBISENI, is the Secretary General Afenifere.