…Buhari lacks constitutional power to stop payment, says Okon
By Harris Emanuel
Akwa Ibom state government has bemoaned the non-payment of 13 percent derivation oil revenue by the federal government as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The state government said the non-payment of the funds has affected adversely its development process.
The federal government under former President Olusegun Obasanjo began payment of the 13 percent derivation principle to oil-producing states of the federation and did not default on payment until 2016 and again this year by President Muhammadu Buhari.
It was not immediately ascertained why the federal government has again stopped the payment of the derivation funds to the states.
The 13% derivation fund has been a subject of controversy between the oil-producing communities and the various states’ government, with the communities asking the Federal Government to start paying the money directly to oil-producing communities and not into the coffers of the states.
Commissioner for Finance, Linus Nkan, evaded Vanguard’s request for clarification on the matter, but his counterpart in the Information and Strategy Ministry, Comrade Iniobong Ememobong, who confirmed the development, was silent on how many months the state has not been paid.
Ememobong, however, said that the governors were already on top of the matter and expressed the optimism that the logjam would soon thaw.
“It is a huge blow to the development process. It is slowing down the development process critically and I am aware that the governors are pushing to make sure that it is brought back on board. Because that is the live wire of development in those coastal areas in the oil-bearing communities”, he said.
On the alleged mismanagement of the derivation funds by the governor, Ememobong said, ‘’In Akwa Ibom, we publish a yearly account and our yearly account is yet to be challenged. It is there on the website.
” So, the process of accountability has been entrenched. The governor is not only an Accountant but a Chartered Auditor as well. Embezzlement does not happen here.’’
In his reaction, elder statesman and former member of the National Assembly, Senator Anietie Okon stated succinctly that the federal government lacks the constitutional power to stop payment of the funds to the states as it could trigger off unpleasant consequences in the region.
” They cannot stop the payment of 13 percent derivation. If they do dare, then they have to quote what law and constitution provisions that give the federal government the power to do that, unless they are now obviously accepting that there is a complete breakdown of the Constitution in Nigeria. They can wait for the consequences.”