By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA- Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, has asked that the 13 percent derivation component of the $1 billion Excess Crude Account (ECA) funds to be withdrawn for national security be deducted and sent to the various oil producing States in the country.
According to the governor, releasing such funds to the oil producing states was important to prevent subjecting them in making dual contributions to the security funds.
In a statement by the State’s Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, Wednesday, Dickson argued that the implication of the withdrawal, inclusive of the 13 percent, was that the oil producing states would be making double contributions to the security funds.
He stressed that the oil producing states would be contributing not only their statutory allocations like other states, but also their 13 percent derivation fund constitutionally designed to address special circumstances including security, occasioned by the hazards of oil production.
The Governor stated further that he had discussed the issue with the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in his capacity as Chairman of the National Economic Council as well as Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum.
While insisting that Bayelsa was not against the withdrawal of the funds to enhance national security; the utilization of the funds involving the armed forces, intelligence services and police must cover every part of the country, Dickson stated.
“Our position generally has been that leaders should collaborate on issues of national security and the economy. On these matters, there should be no partisanship or showmanship because these issues touch on the core of our nation and the individual wellbeing of everybody.
“Secondly, as it has been done before, Bayelsa has no opposition to the withdrawal of money for national security expenditure targeted at improving the capacity of our military and security agencies to protect the territorial integrity of the country and all Nigerians.
“Our position is that the 13 percent derivation element be deducted and sent to the states. Not do do so means that the oil producing states would be contributing from both ends: we will be contributing our statutory allocations like every other state, and then the 13 percent derivation which is meant to address special circumstances as oil producing states, including security challenges,” the statement read.
The Bayelsa Governor further demanded that a committee of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum be set up to interface with the Chairman of the National Economic Council and leadership of the national security agencies to receive briefings on the details of items to be procured.
Dickson said that Bayelsa like other States, would be interested in knowing what component of these security procurements would directly benefit its security architecture, saying, “A committee of the Governors’ Forum should be set up forthwith to liaise with the Vice President as Chairman of the National Economic Council, and heads of the national security agencies to receive briefings on details of the proposed procurements in order to allay the concerns being expressed by segments of our population. We would like to know specifically what aspects of these investments are coming to Bayelsa,’’ he added.