BY SONI DANIEL, NORTHERN REGION EDITOR, HENRY UMORU & JOSEPH ERUNKE

INDICATIONS emerged last night that the National Conference might have ended abruptly because of a sharp disagreement between Northern and Southern delegates over fresh agitation to re-introduce oil dichotomy and adopt a new derivation formula for oil-bearing states in the country.

cartoon-derivationVanguard gathered from top conference sources that it was the timely intervention of former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Obong Victor Attah, who chairs the Power Devolution Committee that saved the situation from getting out of control.

Irreconcilable differences between delegates from the two regions in the committee forced the committee to postpone the submission of its report to the Conference Secretariat when others did so.
The crisis was said to have started when northern delegates, who wanted a reduction of the 13 percent derivation being enjoyed by oil-bearing states to five percent and the re-introduction of onshore/offshore oil dichotomy, insisted on voting on the two controversial issues in the absence of the chairman.

Controversial issues
It was learnt that the northern delegates in the committee were emboldened to demand for voting on the two delicate issues having secured the support of some South-West delegates in the committee to press for their demands.

The northern delegates on the other hand, were to support the demand by some South-West delegates for regional autonomy.
The South-South delegates, who had come with a mindset to raise derivation on oil from 13 percent to 50 percent, suddenly discovered that they did not have the number to push for such astronomical jerk and were forced to enter into compromise with the North.

Vanguard learnt that the delegates in the power devolution committee were about to vote on the matter in Attah’s absence when the former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, stood down the motion insisting that the submission of the report would expire by midnight of that day and not that morning, all in an attempt to allow Attah to return to the country.

Upon his return, the former governor reportedly threatened to walk out a South-West delegate in the committee, who made desperate moves to bring back the controversial onshore/offshore dichotomy, which had been laid to rest by the Obasanjo administration.

Confad-pix1Similarly, Attah was said to have kicked against any attempt by the North to further reduce the 13 percent derivation being enjoyed by oil-bearing states, saying that it was better to retain it than cause any further slash that might lead to new problems in the polity.

Competent sources said that it was Attah’s maturity in handling the matter that forced the northern delegates to accept the retention of the 13 percent derivation, a development that has not, however, gone down well with some Niger Delta delegates, who wanted between 50 percent and 100 percent derivation on oil.

A top source at the conference pointed out last night that most delegates had wanted to use the Attah’s absence to cause confusion and possibly bring down the deliberations.
“Let me tell you that but for the ingenuity, maturity and exemplary leadership acumen of the former governor, this conference would have been scattered,” one source close to the conference said.

“There are people who were just waiting to see what would come out of the power devolution committee and use it to ignite fire to bring the confab to an abrupt end but they have been disappointed by the way the matter was handled,” the source added.

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