By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
A coalition of militants in Niger Delta under the auspices of Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, RNDA,yesterday, warned governors of the nine states in the oil-rich region to steer clear of the 13 per cent derivation fund or face consequences, which may lead to destruction of oil facilities in the creek.
Speaking through the General Officer Commanding, GOC, RNDA, self-professed “Major General” Johnmark Ezonebi, aka Obama, the militants slammed the Chairman of South-South Governors Forum and Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, over his recent claim that paying 13 per cent derivation directly to the oil communities could create misunderstanding.
The militants cautioned: “Any attempt by Niger- Delta governors to fight the Presidency over our demand and that of oil communities that 13 per cent derivation funds should not be paid through them, we will declare war against them because enough is enough of this man-made perpetual injustice created by our governors using the fund to buy private jets, properties in Abuja, Lagos and abroad, build government houses and buying billion naira worth of exotic cars in their convoys.”
Okowa, had, while answering a question on derivation during his quarterly interaction with reporters, Wednesday, said: “Besides, it is not a question of I want to manage the 13 percent, they ought to say they want to manage the 100 per cent, what about the 87 per cent being shared among other states in the country?
“You did not push for the 87 per cent, but it is the 13 per cent coming to the state that you want to manage, it does not make sense. Unfortunately, people just want to be heard and noticed.
“And by the time the governors are talking on their own, you are getting a group of communities talking and those ones have a different view point. By the time this division is created, what then happens? They will say we are singing in different tunes, that you do not have a collective voice on the management of resources in your region,” he said.
However, militants, who purported that Niger-Delta governors were misappropriating the 13 per cent derivation fund, asserted: “Governor Okowa and his counterparts from the region are warned to stay clear from the 13 percent derivation funds or else they will face severe consequences, which may lead to destruction of all oil facilities in the creek.”
Ezonebi faulted the claim by Governor Okowa, that paying 13 per cent Derivation Fund directly to oil communities does not make sense and would cause misunderstanding, saying his outburst was provocative.
He added that contrary to the governor’s claim, “direct payment to oil communities and not state governors will lead to effective development of the region.”
“Governor Okowa’s statement is provocative and an attempt by the Niger Delta governors to continue the alleged diversion of 13 per cent derivation meant to develop oil producing communities and the region.
“The governor’s position, which is contrary to the stand of the Presidency and oil/gas producing communities is that it is the governors that can manage the fund on behalf of the oil communities. This is a great insult and deceitful position by the governors known to have misappropriated funds meant for the development of the region.
“Okowa and his fellow governors should come out to tell us what they have done with the 13 per cent derivation and many other funds that have accrued to the region. Okowa’s position is also an insult to the agitating militant groups in the creek and the oil producing communities and traditional rulers from the region.
“These Niger Delta governors cannot continue to enslave and mortgage the future of our youths and that of our unborn children in the creeks. They should also not provoke the wrath of the gods upon their lives and if they refuse to steer clear from the 13 percent derivation fund, we may be forced to declare war against them and tag them as enemies of development of the oil -rich region.
“In our years of agitation, we have observed the damages and the devastating effects caused by this greedy self -centered state governors from the region. The oil and gas producing communities in region are saying enough is enough,” the RNDA leader said.
According to him: “ RNDA wants to challenge the governor of Delta State to pinpoint the massive urban infrastructural development he has done so far with the trillions he has collected from the 13 percent derivation fund since he assumed office as governor of Delta state in 2015.”