Derivation: Cross River commits to human development
In continuation of our series on Derivation Fund, Clara Nwaachukwu assesses how far the Cross River State Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, can go with N1.1billion internally generated revenues in the face of over N2.2billion overhead costs amid loss of derivation funds, even as the governor is optimistic that a political solution will bring some succor as he strives on with investments in human capital .
Last week, the National Assembly urged the Federal Government to appeal the International Court of Justice, ICJ’s ruling, which ceded the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon. The development followed revelations that Nigeria may not have presented a proper defence and evidence to make it retain the oil rich region.
How subsequent developments will turn out hereafter, will depend on how seriously the Federal Government pursues the case, because in about three weeks from now, the region may be lost forever. Viewed against the backdrop of the displaced people of Bakassi, who, by a sudden ruling are now neither Nigerians nor Cameroonians, the issue portends grave consequences.
The reality is that Nigeria lost its continental oil shelf and the attendant oil and gas resources that go with it. Cross River State caught in the middle of the whole saga, looks up to the Federal Government for respite in view of its huge financial burden, which was aggravated by the loss of Bakassi. As a result, the state lost its littoral status, which resulted in the loss of the 13 percent revenues from the Derivation Fund.
The loss of the 76 oil wells in April to sister state, Akwa Ibom, was nailing the coffin for Cross River, which thought that notwithstanding the loss of Bakassi, it is still entitled to the oil wells. Imoke had criticised that “the judgment lacked justice and equity.”
But, as was noted at that time, awarding the oil blocks to Cross River would have meant losing them to Cameroon. The Supreme Court in its ruling, said, “The plaintiff (Cross River) has no maritime territory since the cessation of Bakassi Peninsula and the Cross River estuary which used to be part of the state prior to August 2008.”
Before becoming landlocked
Until April this year, Governor Imoke revealed that Cross River state was getting up to N4.2billion per annum or about N350million monthly from the 13 Derivation Fund, which he ploughed into development projects.
Most of these projects were geared towards human capital development in order to add value to the lives of the people, as according to the governor, “greatest infrastructure any state can have is its people.”
For him, human capital is more important than all the skyscrapers, all the highways and all the technology any economy can build, saying, “Until we invest in these people, we have not developed ,no matter the big buildings, expressways and flyovers that we have; until we invest in the people there is no real development.”
The governor maintained that all of his administration’s development efforts are geared towards uplifting the standard and quality of life. “Through this, their incomes improved, and poverty reduced with a view to meeting the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs target in 2015.”
Some development achievements
- Healthcare – zero infant mortality in one local government with similar healthcare services to expand to 19 other local government areas targeted at 300 families per facility.
- Education – renovated 60 secondary schools and recorded more than 5,000 enrolments. Now No. 7 in Nigeria with 56 percent pass rate in English and Maths. Set a Cross River Standard, which includes science laboratories, computer laboratory for each school in addition to teachers training programmes and a host of others
- Condition Cash Transfer, CCT and skills acquisition programme, valued between N5,000 and N15,000 for 30 vulnerable families per ward depending on the level of skills to be acquired.
- Road construction – done kilometers rural roads in Phase 1, selected by the communities based on access to the big agriculture producing communities. with African Development Bank, ADB, for 492-kilometer roads in Phase 2.
- Rural electrification - have connected 150 communities to the grid
- Water programme – declared best Rural Water Supply programme by the United Nations, UN.
IGR and other resource efforts
Imoke argues that it is no longer fashionable to depend on the Federal Government for handout, äs such, the state has beefed up its internally generated revenue, IGR, drive, which has paid off handsomely by raking in about N1.5billion in December 2011, on account of tourism boost with the Annual Calabar Festival.
Furthermore, he says that in view of the loss of its oil and gas wealth ,as well as the loss of its share of the environment impact fund, the state is falling back on its solid minerals resources, as it has discovered some precious stones, which he hoped would attract new 13 percent derivation fund.