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Re:Presidential amnesty, youths of the Niger Delta and the 1999 constitution (2)

By Akpo Mudiaga-Odje

This kind of Treaty and/or Agreement between the contending parties enacted into law for the peace, order and good government of the Federation and the Niger Delta in particular, will be a reference point for posterity and the nation as to its terms and conditions.

So, any party that breaches it will be known clearly in the eyes of the polity and of course, the law. Consequently, a general and/or blanket statement of amnesty without any legal backing as well as Federal Government’s commitment towards empowering the youths and rebuilding desolate infrastructure in the Niger Delta, will only scratch the surface.

And without legal backing, the amnesty may fall into that which Ogundare, JCA (as he then was) and of blessed memory in the case of Okongwu Vs. State (supra) at page 751 paras. A-B described as: “….only an example of the naked abuse of power”.And in this Treaty and/or Agreement, the Federal Government should be compelled to do the following and/or more for peace to prevail;  Abrogation and repeal of all laws that expropriate the rights of the people to control their resources, such as: Appointment of a full-fledged Minister of Petroleum Resources from the South-South.

Banning gas flaring in the Niger Delta completely and immediately this year.Oil Companies should relocate their headquarters to their areas of operation in the South-South, preferably in the creeks where they have their flow stations. The Federal Government as personified by Mr. President, should comply with the NDDC Act, 2000 by paying all its 15% statutory allocation including all arrears since July 2000 thereof, forthwith.

Multinational oil companies be made to pay their statutory 3%, including all arrears forthwith. The NDDC be compelled as a priority to provide all riverine oil-bearing communities in the Niger Delta with light, potable water, good roads and hospitals.

Pending the realization of resource control, the derivation percentage should be increased from the paltry 13% to 50% as it was in the beginning of the Luggard Project. In this connection, therefore, Mr. President and the National Assembly should be prevailed upon to enact a new Revenue Formula for Nigeria which they have woefully failed to do since 29th May 1999 when the Constitution came into operation, i.e. almost ten years ago.

The multinational oil companies be compelled by law to employ our youths in the South-South in both skilled and unskilled labour especially those operating in the riverine oil communities, and paid the same salaries and welfare package like their expatriate counterparts.

The dichotomy between onshore and offshore revenue should be totally, completely and finally abolished because the current confinement to 200 depth isobath as encouraging as it may be, is still a far cry from the continental shelf. As an administration which professes the Rule of Law, we respectfully demand the immediate abolishment of the Excess Crude Oil Account, which is unconstitutional.

Payment of all revenues accruing from the sale of crude oil and/or gas should be paid into the Federation Account as set out in Section 162 of the Constitution. Update and make more stringent, the laws regulating Environmental Pollution arising from oil and gas exploration in Nigeria.Our youths can be employed as coastal guards in charge of guarding the oil pipelines as well as facilities, and be paid competitive salaries like their expatriate counterparts.

Legislate and/or enact laws regulating the Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) of oil Companies to their host communities.

Ensuring that every State of the Niger Delta sets up a State Oil Commission with a minimum of 50% of its 13% derivation as funding, which said funds should be paid directly from source, i.e. from the office of the Accountant_General of the Federation straight to the Commissions.

The youths want a piece of the action at the grass root level, too. The Federal Government should divest 20% of its 60% equity share in the Joint Venture Partnerships with the oil producing Companies to the host oil producing Communities of the Niger Delta. The unconditional release of Henry Okah and dropping all charges against him, as well as Asari Dokubo and other genuine freedom fighters. Full implementation of the undoctored version of the Niger Delta Technical Committee Report.

Conclusion.
In this connection, we respectfully admonish the Federal Government that in addition to the encouraging offer of amnesty, it should contemporaneously incorporate the above recommendations into a binding Agreement with the youths of the region, and same duly passed into law by the National Assembly to enable it have constitutional and legal backing.


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