News that President Muhammadu Buhari signed on Monday a law on the oil industry that will be of immense benefit to Nigeria, was overshadowed by the information that the signing was done in London, where Buhari is vacationing, in the presence of his chief of staff, Abba Kyari.
According to the President, “Today is an important day for all Nigerians – but particularly the young generation.
“Today I signed into law the amended Deep Offshore Act. Nigeria will now receive its fair, rightful and equitable share of income from our own natural resources for the first time since 2003.
“In that year oil prices began a steep increase to double – and at times – triple over the following decade.
“All this time Nigeria has failed to secure its equitable share of the proceeds of oil production, for all attempts to amend the law on the distribution of income have failed. That is, until today.
“Rapid reductions in the cost of exploration, extraction and maintenance of oil fields had occurred over these 25 years, at the same time as sales prices have risen.
“A combination of complicity by Nigerian politicians and feet-dragging by oil companies has, for more than a quarter-century, conspired to keep taxes to the barest minimum above $20 per barrel – even as now the price is some three times the value.
“Today this changes. For the first time under our amended law, 200 million Nigerians will start to receive a fair return on the surfeit of resources of our lands. Increased income will allow for new hospitals, schools, infrastructure and jobs.
“Today marks a new and beneficial relationship with our oil company partners: one that benefits all – starting with the Nigerian people.”
The import of the signing, in which the president was casually dressed and Abba Kyari was even suited, was lost as Nigerians questioned the appropriateness of the president’s action when there is a vice president in Nigeria.
Buhari left Nigeria for a 21-day trip without transmitting power to the Vice-President, with his spin doctors saying he could govern from anywhere, including when he is not officially working for the country.