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Toward a more productive Nigerian federation (2)

This is the second and concluding installment of this response. The first part was published in yesterday’s edition of Vanguard

THAT the North has natural resources endowment that are more sustained which, if harnessed, would evolve a new and balanced federation that is productive, progressive and prosperous. This way, the morbid desire on the part of the predatory class to continue to appropriate and expropriate the resources of the Niger Delta will no longer be as compelling.

Alhaji Yakasai’s statistics were selective configured to convince himself that the North had always been the big brother financially in the Nigerian arrangement. Opinions are free but facts are sacred. Let me start by quoting from Michael Crowder, the great historian, in his article titled Lugard and Colonial Nigeria – Towards an Identity? which was taken from his book “History Today”, February 1986, Vol. 36, pp 23 – 29, wherein he stated “the Colonial Office ruled that the rich Southern Protectorate should provide the deficit-ridden Northern Protectorate with the funds to finance its Baro rail line.”

Right from the beginning, the Northern Protectorate was deficit ridden and could not, therefore, have been a source of financing any developments in the South. On the contrary, evidence abounds that the South had been the source of sustenance of the North long before the amalgamation in 1914, as shown from the records of the colonial office.

The Sir Sydney Philipson, made available by Alhaji Tanko Yakasai runs contrary to the irrefutably established fact that the Northern Protectorate and the colony and Southern Protectorate were amalgamated because the Northern Protectorate was an economic liability to the British Colonial Administration. This view was aptly captured by Lord Harcourt, the Colonial Secretary, when the boldly stated:

Unification of Nigeria demanded both ‘method’ and ‘a man’. The man was to be Lord Lugard and the method was to be the ‘marriage’ of the two entitles. We have released Northern Nigeria from the leading strings of the treasury. The promising and well conducted youth is now on an allowance on his own and is about to effect an alliance with a southern lady of means. I have issued the special licencee and Sir Frederick Lugard will perform the ceremony. May the union be fruitful and the couple constant.

Furthermore, in European Scientific Journal, October 2013 edition volume 9 No. 29 ISSN 1857-7881 (print) e-ISSN 1857-1731, Usman Mohammed also stated. In appointing Lord Lugard to plan and direct the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria, the Colonial Office was concerned to combine the North’s financial deficit with South’s surplus and to unify competing railway networks.

Exercise in humour

The poetic use of the terms, ‘Youth’ (man) for the North and ‘Lady’ (woman) for the South was neither an accident nor an exercise in humour. It was a serious matter, with the game plan being to bring the two parties together in order to give the North political power over the South and permanent control over Southern resources.

PROF. KIMSE OKOKO
PROF. KIMSE OKOKO

In the section of his presentation entitled ‘Revenue Allocation’ (pp. 4-8), Alhaji Yakasai provided comparative analyses of revenues and expenditure of Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria for the period 1914 to 1925-26. My doubts about the authenticity of the data notwithstanding, I proceed to examine them as presented.

Schedule 1 shows that the Actual Revenue and Expenditure (in British Pounds Sterling) for Northern Nigeria (in 1914) were 770, 979 and 737, 437, respectively. In sharp contrast, revenue and expenditure for Nouthern Nigeria for the same year were 200,778 and 888,651 respectively.

For the years covered in the other two schedules, the northern provinces were consistently awash with surplus while the southern provinces were purportedly in deficit. Let it be noted, however, that the revenues so reflected were largely from ‘Direct Taxes’ collected by the North’s Native Authority under the tax policies instituted by Lord Lugard.

Comparativeattitude

The Warrant Chiefs of the southern provinces were less successful in collection, given the less-than-cooperative attitude of citizens within their jurisdictions. Revenues imposition of tax by the colonial administration is instructively in this regard. Now, we all know that the direct taxation is only one of several sources of public revenue and that it would be misleading to project an economy as sound or otherwise on the basis of receipts from a limited set of revenue heads. That precisely was the glaring inadequacy of the aforesaid schedules.

For some insight into the relative economic strengths of southern Nigeria and northern Nigeria, we can look at sections of the ‘Colonial Annual Report on Nigeria (No. 878) of 1914. On page 4, we find a comparative table for 1913 as follows: Given the relative strengths of the regions in the production of these exports, we should have little difficulty making out who got what in revenue terms. A complete picture of sector-by-sector performance-covering Agriculture, Fisheries, Manufactures, etc- and trade could be gleaned from pages 7-15 of that publication. The data in the table above reminds us that every part of Nigeria has the natural resource base for sound economic performance and sustenance.

The unfair treatment of the South in relation to the North continues to this day as evidenced in the monthly ritual of revenue sharing in Abuja. Whereas the Local Governments in the North receive collectively 54.9 per cent, the LGAs in the South receive only 45.1 per cent. Similarly, while the States in the North collectively receive 56.98 per cent, the States in the South receive only 43.02 per cent. See analysis below derived from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation as published by Federal Ministry of Finance:

For purposes of brevity, I am aunable to present the ananlysis of Federal Government expenditure Ministry by Ministry, but I cannot resist the temptation to draw attention to the expenditures of parastatals under Ministries of Agriculture and Water Resources with weigh heavily in favour of the North.

Revenuegeneration figures

This is reflective of the pattern in virtually all sectors. When the above figures are juxtaposed with the revenue generation figures attributable to the North vis-a-vis the South, the picture becomes saddening.

The South’s petroleum production accounts for 95 per cent of Nigeria’s export earnings and more than 80 per cent of total government revenue, yet it receives less than the North from the common pool. For example, in 2010, Nigeria had export income of $82.54 billion, out of which $78.41 billion was attributable to petroleum.

Furthermore, much noise has been made about the 13 per cent derivation that the oil producing states have been receiving since 2000 but these antagonists deliberately refuse to relate this meagre allocation  to:

•The incalculable environmental damage: To start with, the United Nations Environmental Programme has put the initial cost of cleaning up Ogoni land at $1bn for the first five years, which is only a trickle when compared to the projected cost of cleaning up of the Niger Delta, that has been put at $500bn US dollars, (as at 2010), the equivalent of N82.5 trillion. At the current rate, it will take close to 40 years to clear up the physical environment if all the derivation funds are directed to the clean-up exercise alone. The cost implication to human health, life expectancy and socio-economic dislocation have not been factored into these figures.

•The relative cost of infrastructure development which on average is twenty six times the cost in the North. See analysis in the table below:

I have highlighted these figures not to sadden Alhaji Tanko Yakasai. The figures are merely to demonstrate that the South has been a magnanimous big brother in the last hundred years. Instead of focusing on revenue allocation, Alhaji Yakasai will help the North if the exploitation of the vast resources in the North is given greater priority. Benue State has proven reserves of 305,204,045 metric tonnes of Iron-ore that is presently valued at about $41 billion, while Kwara State has proven reserves of 250,900,445 metric tonnes of the same mineral with a current value of about $34 billion. And this is just one of the many minerals that abound in these and other states of the North.

Considering the enormous employment opportunities that the exploitation of these resources will unleash on the indigenes of these States, and the knock-on effect on other parts of the country, Conferees are implored to focus on the enthronement of true federalism which is the master-key that will open the door of prosperity for every nook and cranny of this great country.

Alhaji Yakasai has stated that royalties and mineral rents were the basis for the application of the principle of derivation in the 1963 Constitution. He also stated that the funding of the Niger Delta Development Authority was from the Federation allocation not from the Mid-West and Eastern Regions.

The claim that the North contributed more to the Federal Government fund as indicated in the three schedules of the “Actual Provincial Revenue Contributions to the Central Funds and Expenditure on Provisional Services” which he provided has been proven to be misleading. We have also established that a lot more narratives as quoted in this paper has shown that the South pre-independence posted a surplus and post independence have borne the burden of the country.

Deficitposition

One wonders how the North as reported by Yakasai made sacrifices through its contributions to fund the South and NDDB from its deficit position. However, on the clever assertion by Alhaji Tanko Yakasai that the principle of derivation only applied to the royalty and rents, he deliberately omitted the provision in Section 140 of the 1963 Constitution to wit: “For the purpose of this section, the continental shelf of a region shall be deemed to be part of the region.”

These revenue source in favour of the East also contributed to the funding of NDDB. Added to the above revenue source were all  import duties on petrol and diesel which were  100 per cent retained including excise duty on tobacco. It is an established practice in federalism, by the principle of equity, that States financially disadvantaged are taken care of by the Federal Government through equitable financial policies to mitigate their developmental challenges.

The discovery of oil in Oloibiri in 1956 and the first shipment in February, 1958 also swelled the revenue of the South and by extension the federal purse. And this was before the establishment of the Niger Delta Development Board (NDDB) in 1962.  In the circumstance, the North could not have funded the NDDB. This erroneous argument has also been extended to the early phases of oil prospecting activities in the South. for the avoidance of doubt, let it be known that the oil companies used their recourses to prospect for oil, discovered it and exploited same. The Federal Government only issued mining licences and received royalty, mining rents and taxes.

Good governance: Thus far, I have had to contest the viewpoint of a respected citizen and colleague out of my conviction that facts are sacred and must be so handled.

My joy, however, is that Alhaji Yakasai and I, just like many other distinguished Delegates here, are believers in the ultimate good of our country. He addressed the subject of good governance – because he cares about the well-being of our country – and I believe his standpoint is unimpeachable. I am happy, too, that in this national undertaking called National Conference, good governance is in evidence. Political debates, particularly in this structured format as we have here, is a critical benchmark.

Criticalbenchmark

Again, as we look around us and notice the composition, the representativeness of this august body and the procedural rules, gender equality and social inclusiveness are in evidence. These are hallmarks of good governance. Kudos, therefore, to the great thinkers who put this body and agenda together.

Beyond these, however, we have to address ourselves to the eight critical elements of good governance established by the United Nations and routinely practicalised by the World Bank and associated agencies. The UN has recommended that governance has to be:

•Consensus-oriented

•Participatory

•Submissive to the rule of law

•Effective and efficient

•Accountable

•Transparent

•Responsive

•Equitable and Inclusive, to be adjudged as good.

I recall that in his inaugural address to this august assembly, Mr. President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, had pointed out, and I quote: “…the most compelling task before us, as we move ahead and contemplate what our nation will be at the end of its second century, is to lay a much stronger foundation for faster development.”

To get there, we must focus on the benchmarks that the world body has articulated to guide all forward-looking nations. I believe we are here just for that purpose – to lay a much stronger foundation for faster development – and that Nigeria could not have had a better assemblage of citizens for that task than what we have here today.

Concluding remarks: The task before us is enormous, given the many tough questions about our statehood that have to be dealt with and the expectations of our citizens here at home and abroad.

Economicunder-performance

We cannot even discount the expectations of our well-wishers – international organisations, foreign nationals, etc – who want to see that much-talked about potential as ‘giant of Africa’ materialise. We all have lamented the economic under-performance and the associated socio-political convulsions our country has witnessed in its history. Our resource endowment – human and natural – points to levels of developmental performance that we have yet to attain. And we cannot pretend that we do not know where the problems lie, that in the faulty foundation bequeathed by military adventurers since 1966 lies our nation’s greatest undoing.

We can no longer play the ostrich – we must show leadership. We must rise above base sentiments, above those primordial impulses that have inclined us to mutual distrust and self-destruction. Our revered Chairman, my distinguished colleagues, I rest my case.

•Professor Kimse Okoko, delegate, Abuja


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