BY HENRY UMORU , Abuja
THE crisis rocking the National Conference over derivation deepened yesterday following the abortion of the meeting of the Chairman of the Conference, Justice Idris Kutigi with the group of 50 wise men known as the Consensus Group, chairmen and deputies of the 20 standing committees.
Only 20 or about 22 per cent of the 90 delegates expected at the meeting showed up, forcing the leadership to turn the gathering into an informal one.
Consequently, a stormy session is expected on Monday when the plenary reconvenes, as southern delegates insist on their opposition to proposed allocation of five percent of federal revenue to rebuild insurgency-ravaged areas of the North because the move would increase violence in the country.
Following the deadlock and abrupt adjournment of the plenary last Thursday on account of the failure to arrive at a compromise on revenue sharing, derivation formula and insurgency fund, Kutigi had scheduled yesterday’s meeting with the wise men for 11 am.
However, Saturday Vanguard gathered that only 20 delegates turned up for the meeting. Apparently not ready for the meeting and after some hours of waiting by the delegates, Kutigi was said to have asked his deputy, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi to tell the delegates that the leadership was aware of their presence but they should brainstorm and brief the leadership later.
The move, which turned the gathering into an informal one as opposed to the expected serious meeting left the delegates confused because the leadership of the Conference called for the meeting and not the delegates.
Delegates who showed up included Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Umara Kumalia, Prof. Jubril Aminu, Gen. Geoffrey Ejiga, Fola Adeola, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Obong Victor Attah, Senator Ibrahim Ida, Alhaji Tanko Yankassai; Senator Musa Adede, Evelyn Shekarau, Comrade Issa Aremu, Mrs Bola Ogunrinade and Ledun Mitee.
Last Thursday, delegates were divided along regional lines and failed to come to a compromise on how revenue should be shared. The plenary session ended abruptly without a final decision on critical issues of revenue sharing formula from the Federation Account and derivation principle and they could not conclude voting on recommendations of the Devolution of Power Committee led by Obong Victor Attah and former Inspector- General of Police, IGP Ibrahim Coomasie.
The Elders Committee through its Spokesman and delegate on the platform of Elder Statesmen Category, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari had on Wednesday presented the outcome of the committee’s meeting which raised the derivation from 13 per cent to 18 per cent.
It also resolved that there shall be a National Intervention Fund which shall be five per cent of the annual revenue accruing to the account of the Federal Government for the stabilization, rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas affected by terrorism and insurgency, in the first instance in the North East of Nigeria, North Central, North West and any other part of the country.
The five per cent National Intervention Fund for areas affected by terrorism and insurgency, in the first instance in the North East of Nigeria, North Central, North West sparked off protests among delegates from the South-South, South-West and South-East, who said it must not read the north alone but any part of the country that may be affected by terrorism and insurgency.
The position of the North on the five per cent National Intervention Fund, it was gathered yesterday, is that three per cent should go to North East because of the level of destruction, while the North-Central and North-West should get one per cent each.
However, strong indications emerged yesterday that other geo- political zones of the country will on Monday kick against the fund being for the north only. The argument is that the money will still come from the South-South and the move was likened to increasing derivation by five per cent and taking it away through another means. The southern delegates noted that the North agreed to increase derivation from 13 per cent to 18 per cent and was now trying to collect the five per cent increment using the rehabilitation fund.
Besides, they argued that when the states in the north start enjoying the fund, insurgency may be fuelled in other parts of the country or the militants may as well go back to the creeks, adding that leaders may even sponsor insurgency in other parts of the country to benefit from the fund.