The signing of the Amended Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Bill by President Muhammadu Buhari while on a private visit in London, has sparked outrage across Nigeria.
Mr. Buhari had left the country on October 28 to Saudi Arabia, and then went on a private visit to London on November 2 without transmitting power to vice president Yemi Osinbajo.
He will be away from Nigeria till November 17, the presidency had said in a statement.
The Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Transition Monitoring Group, have described the taking of a bill by the chief of staff, Abba Kyari to London to be signed by the president, as the height of impunity.
However, the Presidency, argues that Mr. Buhari could perform his duties from any part of the world.
Afenifere disagreed, saying the fact that the President’s Chief of Staff travelled to London to present memos and bills to Buhari showed that Osinbajo was practically out of Buhari’s government.
The spokesman for Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, told the Punch that the seeming demotion of Osinbajo was part of the next level strategy of Buhari.
He said, “This is evidence that Nigeria is now under one man’s rule. You can see that the National Assembly is a rubber stamp while the judiciary has been cowed. The Vice-President is practically out and that is all part of the next level.”
Reacting to the development, a former President of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Malachy Ugwummadu, said it was unethical and unpatriotic for the President to sign a bill outside the country.
“A few questions are relevant here. Why did the President not transmit power this time to the Vice-President? Why was it the Chief of Staff and not the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Legislative Matters, that took the amended Deep Shore Bill to him for signature?”
Also the Ohanaeze Ndigbo condemned Buhari’s action, describing it as executive lawlessness.
Prince Uche Achi-Okpaga, Ohanaeze’s National Publicity Secretary, expressed the view that the bill signed into law in London could not be binding on Nigerians.
“I won’t be surprised that this is happening, that is the height of abuse of executive powers. You see they have just watered the executive powers and made it to look like nonsense.
“Apart from the legal implications, how do they think the outside world, the foreign countries would be looking at us? They are looking at us as a state of lawlessness. Why would the President deal with his official executive office in a foreign country? He goes to a foreign land to sign bills that are meant to bind Nigerians. It doesn’t obtain anywhere and it shouldn’t even be mentioned anywhere.
“What is the mission of the President outside in United Kingdom? Is his mission private or official? What is it that he cannot come back to Nigeria to attend to files on his table? If you transmit a bill from the National Assembly, it goes to the table of the President for his assent. Was it the National Assembly that took it to the President overseas?”
The umbrella body of lawyers in Nigeria, the Nigerian Bar Association also faulted the failure of the President, who said he is on a private visit in London, to transmit power to his deputy, Osinbajo.
NBA’s Publicity Secretary Kunle Edun, said while the President was entitled to work abroad, important business of state like assenting to bills should not be performed outside the shores of Nigeria.
The NBA stated, “Ordinarily, there should be nothing wrong with the Nigerian President working from abroad. Visitations to world leaders and attending international conferences are working visits.
“However, what we have found lately which is a sad norm is that the Nigerian President seems to prefer working more from his overseas base than being in Nigeria.
“This unfortunate trend has now recently been extended to a situation where a Nigerian President would be assenting to a legislative bill in a foreign country.
“Some may argue that the Nigerian House in London is part of the territory of Nigeria but the gaffe in such argument would be seen when we argue that the Supreme Court of Nigeria or the Senate of the National Assembly of Nigeria should also conduct their official businesses in the Nigerian House in London, or that the federal cabinet meeting should be held outside Nigeria.”