BY Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
WARRI — THERE were indications, yesterday, that governors of the South-South states might have met behind closed doors and adopted a veiled strategy to counter moves by the Northern governors to reduce the constitutionally approved 13 per cent derivation fund to oil-producing states.
A highly-placed source to the governors confided in Vanguard: “The South-South governors have met, but it was not an open meeting because of the dimension the matter raised by the northern governors has assumed. They have deliberated on the matter and taken some resolutions, which they do not want to make public.”
Vanguard leant that the South-South governors might have decided to lobby President Goodluck Jonathan, National Assembly members and other influential Nigerians to allow the status quo remain and let the sleeping dog lie, rather than exacerbate the tension the controversy has created in the country.
He said: “The strategy is not to confront the northern governors the way they wanted it by coming up with the demand. It is to publicly ignore them and do their spadework at the appropriate quarters since the matter is very clear.
“South-South governors are satisfied with the response of eminent leaders of the region and other Nigerians to the demand by the northern governors and want to make their northern colleagues know that they are mature enough not to dance in a public square with them on a matter that has historical precedent and requires logical reasoning, and not playing to the gallery with sentimental declarations.”
It’s pure nemesis
Meanwhile, the demand of the northern governors for a review of the derivation formula has assumed an international dimension as leader of the Nigerian community in The Netherlands, Chief Lambert Igboanugo and Rotterdam-based Hope for Niger Delta Campaign, founded by Mr. Sunny Ofehe, lambasted the north for stoking needless controversy.
Chief Igboanugo, a South-Easterner, who spoke to Vanguard from The Netherlands said: “Taking a cursory look at what is happening in Nigeria today, including the security situation in the North, one can say that it is pure nemesis catching up with a group that is in a cesspool of their own making.”
He said 25 per cent derivation, which was agreed to in former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s national conference, should be implemented, adding: “And this must include offshore continental shelf within whatever limit. The day of blind cheat is over and out.
“The question is: if there is endemic poverty, how it got so bad for the Northern region and not the Eastern region that suffered the devastation of the civil war, which is only fought once in any given country. The question is what is the percentage of 42 years of 51 years of Nigeria’s independent existence? The answer is thick 82.35 per cent.
North must take blame
“Then it becomes obvious that the North must take almost the blame for Nigeria’s problems. It is a useless agenda to use the so-called Boko Haram to threaten Nigeria for a fault of development, which is purely blamed on the rot in the system that the Northern leaders have institutionalized during their over 42 years of cancerous governance of the country’s 51 years.
“It is a matter of the pot calling the kettle black and calling a dog a bad name in order to kill it. This is unacceptable by discerning minds, both at home and in Diaspora.
“Since the emergence of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, GCFR, as President of the country, the Northern elements who vowed to make his regime ungovernable have stopped at nothing by trying all the tricks that took Maradona out of football to distract the smooth running of his administration without success.
“When we had Professor Charles Soludo as the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor, he left a legacy of making Nigerian banks the most consolidated in the world, which made them to survive all sorts of bank crashes worldwide.
“Now that Nigeria has someone from the Northern axis who is the CBN governor in the person of Mr. Sanusi, who happens to be somebody that is more interested in making controversial political (instead of economic) statements at the expense of national security, it is quite absurd thinking it could be possible through the use of so-called Boko Haram”.
It’s impossible to talk of devt in the North
“How can Mr. Sanusi be talking of concentrated poverty in the North and revenue accruing to Niger Delta region as if he is blaming the Southerners for the Northern leaders, who had the opportunity to rescue Nigeria, but failed woefully for 42 odd years
“Mr. Sanusi raised money for the internally displaced in Kano, which happened because Boko Haram, as attack dog, doesn’t want to have anything to do with Igbo and other Southern Christians, who were sent packing according to the gospel of his kind of pressure.
“How can he be talking of poverty in the North when he has over 19 million Almajaris in 19 states of the North ready to take arms with Boko Haram, which they claim are more valued than the rest of Nigerian Christians? Now, we know how the Almajaris are helping to develop the North.
“Right now, it will be relatively impossible to talk of development in the North when the region’s developer is sent packing. Nigerians in Diaspora and the international community are busy analyzing the comments of Mr. Sanusi since the emergence of Boko Haram.
“There will not be any sort of development in the North since the level of poverty will only get worse in the presence of Boko Haram which has no comparism with MEND that existed only for resource control to take care of environmental degradation of the area due to oil exploration and subsequent neglect.
“Mr. Sanusi must know that Nigerians in Diaspora are seeing him as somebody abusing his office as a governor of the Cental Bank who must observe the supremacy of the Minister of Finance and learn to get clearance from the minister before making any political statement or be sanctioned adequately.”
Resource control different from Boko Haram
Turning to the Niger State governor, he said: “The chairman of Northern Governors Forum, Dr. Babangida Aliyu should know the difference between the agitation of Niger Delta for resource control and Boko Haram backwardness, which makes mockery of education in any culture.
“His belief that Northern states are poor because they do not collect as much revenue from Federation Account like their counterparts from the Niger Delta is obvious because in the 50s and 60s, the North was getting 50 per cent derivation from their produce, including groundnut , tin, ore, hide and skin etc and no southerner questioned it.
“Since the advent of oil production in the Niger Delta and the 42 years of Northern domination of Nigerian governance, nobody had thought it wise to address the imbalance of giving the oil-bearing states something more than the 13 per cent derivation they are receiving today to augment for the total destruction of their environment.
“Authorities in the North should know they take 100 per cent blame of Nigeria’s underdevelopment when they refused to make good opportunity to build in the country about 10 refineries in Rivers State, seven in Bayelsa, six in Delta state, five in Akwa Ibom, four in Abia State, four in Imo State, three in Edo State, three in Ondo State and about five refineries within the international community.
“Fifty-six refineries for 200 million people is not a big deal if one should know the reason Rotterdam in Holland with her 600,000 inhabitants has 25 petro-chemical refineries. Nigerians with discerning mind should know that British Petroleum, BP, is at the moment paying through its nose, more than $8 billion, because of the oil spill from their offshore rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The money must be paid to even fishermen and people losing businesses along the coast.”
According to him, “it is, therefore, shameful for any section of the country to think of denying the coastline of Niger Delta their natural right of claiming ownership of oil along the continental shelf where no Niger Deltian can lay claim of any oil block as a matter of serious neglect.”
N-Delta deserves more than 13%
Niger-Delta activist, Mr. Ofehe said: “I am very shocked to hear that the Northern governors are calling for a review of the 13 per cent derivation to oil -producing states in Nigeria. It must be very clear that the Niger Delta states deserve even more percentage in derivation and the call by these governors is unpatriotic and sentimental.
“The contentious revenue issue should not be politically hijacked now when there is considerable peace in the region. Any further clamour of review will be seen as an attempt to wake a sleeping dog.”