By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South & Ben Agande
WARRI – Sharp criticism to the call by northern governors for the reduction in derivation proceeds to oil producing states continued weekend with members of the House of Representatives from the region, leading stakeholders and the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND angrily rebuffing the quest.
While MEND threatened dire consequences as its response, spokesman of the defunct Niger-Delta Liberation Front, NDLF, a militant group founded by the late “Gen” John Togo, “Captain” Mark Anthony, accused the northern governors of playing on the seeming quietness of President Goodluck Jonathan to railroad what he described as their provocative agenda.
Rep. Victor Ogene, particularly, charged northern governors to situate their call against what he described as the lopsidedness in the local governments of the country which he claimed has given the north a disproportionate leverage in the funds to the local governments of the country.
Erstwhile Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr. Emmanuel Arigbe-Osula was also among those that condemned the demand.
In separate interviews with Vanguard, the members of the House of Representatives from the South-South region said it was illogical for the northern governors to make their demand for derivation proceeds when they were isolated from the problems of oil exploitation.
In his reaction, Hon. Ken Chikere (PDP Rivers) said while asking for more money is a legitimate demand by the ACF and the northern governors, the timing of the demand was wrong as their demand amounted to incitement.
“It is legitimate to ask for more money. Every governor would want the revenue accruing to his state to be more so that he can develop the state. But what is wrong with the call for more money by the northern governors is the fact that the call is predicated on the report of the revenue accruing to oil bearing states. It is wrong to predicate their call based on the revenue accruing to these states because of the problems associated with these states where oil is coming. The resources that are given to them by way of derivation is to help them confront the numerous problems.
“It is irresponsible to ask for additional funds based on the funds given to oil bearing states at this time of gross upheaval in the polity. It is like incitement and it is unexpected of governors and leaders to incite Nigerians, even their own people at this time of security threat in our country” he said.
In his reaction, Hon. Eseme Eyiboh said rather than ask for more funds from the federal government, every state in the country should explore ways of generating more money for itself to fund its programmes and project.
“What I expect is that as leaders we should concentrate on the issue of diversification of our revenue base, on the issue of sustainable alternatives not only sharing and sharing. People are threadbare, hungry and hopeless. Leadership is becoming more complicated and intriguing by the day.
Nigeria is one nation on the surface of the earth that is very blessed. The weather is very fair, no natural disaster. What leaders should be thinking about now is how to replicate the groundnut pyramid in Kano, Cocoa revolution in the South West and Palm oil in the East. We should return to Agriculture. Natural resources abound in this country. This should be developed rather than insist on sharing” he said.
In his reaction, Hon. Kehinde Oduneye (ACN Ogun) said ‘rather than the leaders calling for more revenue for the northern states, I think we should be looking at fiscal federalism. Fiscal federalism will ensure fairness and equity and every state of the federation will be equally and fairly treated’.
In his reaction, Hon. Victor Ogene (APGA Anambra) said: “While I do not quarrel with the Northern clamour for more money, I do not, however, share their sentiment. Instead of concentrating on funds from the Continental Shelf, why wouldn’t the Northern governors push for increased mining activities in their area to increase the federally collectible pool? Would they give up the additional income that they get from a lopsided Local Government system? What of the South East that gets less than the other zones because of the fewer states they are saddled with? In a democracy, these are ever-present challenges, which cannot be resolved merely on the say-so of one party. Equity, justice and fair-play must be the watchwords as we continually interrogate these issues that define our complex nationhood”.
S-South deserves apology for the insult — Osula
Hon Arigbe Osula asserted in an interview: “Decades of irreparable damages done to the Niger-Delta region by years of gross neglect by the military, whose leadership were mostly Northerners cannot be compensated for by a few years of marginally improved revenue represented by just 13 per cent revenue derivation.”
He continued: “What the Nigerian state has done to this region is a criminal destruction of unimaginable proportion, which will continue to have infinite consequences on all imaginable lives.
“In the face of the absolute tragedy which oil and gas discovery and exploration have been to the people of the oil and gas producing area, it is deeply disturbing to note the contention of the Northern Governors questioning of the meager and sorry current revenue derivation formula which is very insulting to the people of the region compare to the disastrous consequences it has foisted on them.
“It is even more painful when you compare this formula with historical antecedent of past formulae used when groundnut and cocoa were our major sources of revenue without the attendant adverse effect of oil exploration in the name of national revenue generation.”
Don’t take S-South for a ride
Hon Abel Oshevire a former member of the Delta State House of Assembly in his response in an online statement made available to Vanguard, weekend, said: “I am an advocate of a strong, united Nigeria, where every Nigerian will be entitled to his or her rights and privileges so as to realize his or her full potentials. This is why I want to advise the northern governors, elders and leaders, to watch their utterances in order not to compound the present volatile situation in the country”.
He, however, stated: “It beats my imagination as to why these leaders chose this period of all times to introduce such a provocative and vexatious issue as the reduction in the 13 per cent derivation to oil producing states.
“These northern leaders must be very, very careful as not to lend credence to the information flying all over the place that they instigated the Boko Haram mayhem in order to hold the country to ransom and use it to negotiate for their selfish interests.
“How else can one explain the timing of their demand for a review of the revenue allocation formula and the reduction in the 13 per cent derivation to the oil producing states? Are the northern leaders using their demand as a bargain for something they are keeping close to their chests?”
Ex-militant leader, “Captain” Anthony, said: “The call by Northern governors on reduction of revenue derivation of South-South states is very provocative and clearly shows how arrogant the north is to the south-south.
“It is a wake-up call to the people of south-south to come together to tackle this arrogant north by pushing that derivation should be increased to 50 per cent, as it was done when cocoa, groundnut, palm oil were the mainstay of the nation’s economy”, he said.
He said Niger-Delta youths would give the north more than it could chew when the time comes since “they believe that they can use Boko Haram and all these antics to distract President Goodluck Jonathan”.