Human rights activist and lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome has flayed President Muhammadu Buhari for readily signing the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law.
He blisteringly faulted the new law for being in conflict with the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria “to the extent that the Act seeks to redesign the provisions of the Constitution. To that extent is the Act unconstitutional. It must therefore be struck down with the constitutional sledge hammer of Section 1(3) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.”
A statement her personally issued and made available to us dismissed the new law as “mere ruse, a monstrosity, an artifice and device, carefully crafted, incubated and delivered, to actually do irretrievable violence to Nigeria’s progress and body of laws.”
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria noted that: “The PIB Act seeks to frontally attack the provisions of Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution, which provides that all revenues accruing to the Federation shall be paid into a Federation account from which sharing shall be made among the three tiers of government – the federal, government, the 36 states and the 774 Local Government Areas of Nigeria. No expenditure can be made by the Federal Government outside the provisions of section 162. Nor can any monies be expended without going through an Appropriation Bill through submission of budgetary proposals. See sections 80- 84 of the Constitution.
“The Act also constitutes a direct assault on age-long cherished principles of federalism and the doctrine of separation of powers.”
He further faulted the new law for not making bold provisions to unbundle the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), but instead “most curiously, the Act has further strengthened NNPC’s hand of non-accountability and non-responsibility.
“In a sane clime, Nigeria’s only surviving cash cow, the NNPC, ought to be totally unbundled, to make it more viable, productive, transparent and accountable to the Nigerian people.”
He further questioned the rationale of the law for not making provisions for shareholding of other tiers of the government than the federal in the NNPC.
Ozekhome sees gross unfairness in the Act that neglected the interest of the oil regions. “Rather than assuage and ameliorate the sufferings of a beleaguered people, the Act further compound them by reaffirming the people’s perilous status as slavish hewers of wood, drawers of water, masseurs of ego and sideline onlookers in the exploitation and use of their God-given wealth through their natural resources? The Act is nothing but a mere totalitarian and draconian piece of legislation designed to rob Peter to pay Paul.”