By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, S-South
WARRI—A pan-Niger-Delta group, the Reformed Egbesu Assembly, yesterday, demanded that President Muhammadu Buhari stop the payment of 13 per cent Oil Derivation Funds to the governors of oil and gas producing states of the Niger Delta with effect from January 1, 2017, alleging that the governors had squandered over N17 trillion since the disbursement commenced.
Reformed Egbesu’s demand came few days after the Oil and Solid Minerals Producing Areas Landlords Association of Nigeria, OMPLALAN, accused the governors of embezzling N1 trillion meant for the development of the region annually.
The outburst of the two groups was, however, viewed with suspicion by prominent Niger Delta activist, Annkio Briggs, who told Vanguard that “I do not support corruption and I stand for accountability. But Niger Delta will not accept any divide and rule tactics to divert the people from the real struggle for 100 per cent resource control. Moreover, it is wrong to even ask President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the payment of 13 per cent derivation to governors because he does not possess such power; he does not have constitutional right to stop the governors from spending the money.”
Nothing to show for colossal allocation
But, the Reformed Egbesu Assembly in a communiqué issued by Tamanuko Owei, after a meeting of its consultative assembly, said if the remittance of the funds to the governors was not stopped, the much sought tranquility could elude the region.
It said: “The continuous allocation of the 13 per cent derivation fund to the state governors despite protests and agitations of several groups and organizations, host communities of oil and gas, suggests that peace is not yet in sight in Niger Delta. Consequent, we demand that effective January 1, 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari should, as a matter of urgency, peace and security of the Niger Delta, direct the stoppage of all 13 per cent derivation proceeds to the governors. He should set up 13 per cent Derivation Funds Management Committees or Derivation Funds Agency at federal and in all states producing oil and gas.
“That effective January 2017, all proceeds of 13 per cent derivation funds be withheld in an escrow account in the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, pending the establishment of the appropriate structures with community nominees to manage the funds. Since the commencement of the payment of the funds to the present day, over N17 trillion has been mismanaged and misappropriated by the state governors, but one gets to the creeks and the oil and gas producing communities, there is virtually nothing to justify the huge allocation.”