By Obas Esiedesa
Stakeholders have urged state governments in the Niger Delta region to deploy the bulk of revenue received as 13 percent derivation for the development of oil bearing communities.
The stakeholders made up of civil society organizations, host communities’ representatives, members of National Assembly, officials of the Federal Government and natural resource management experts spoke at the weekend during webinar to validate findings from derivation funds study.
They observed that the 13 percent derivation revenues have had minimal impact on the development of oil and gas host communities.
Mrs. Funmi Adesanya, Project Lead, ACIOE Associates, during the presentation of the study report, highlighted the impact of derivation funds in eight states of the Niger Delta region, excluding Cross River State which is no longer deemed oil-producing.
The eight states are: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers.
Adesanya noted that whilst the Federal Government has consistently made allocations to the oil-producing states as enshrined in Section 162(2) of the Constitution, the state governments have full reign over the management of the 13% derivation funds received from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC.
She observed that the states adopt either a Pooled Revenue Structure or Revenue Management via a Development Commission for the benefit of oil-producing Communities, adding that states that have revenue management commissions are enacted by laws and these laws amongst other things prescribe the funding percentages of these commissions.
She noted there was no fixed percentage to these commissions across these states, with states applying varied percentages based on state laws.
On his part, Rep. Dekor Dumnamene, Chairman, Host Communities Committee at the House of Representatives, pointed out that there exists a big issue around defining the concept of “host communities”, and managing the 13% derivation funds in the Niger Delta region.
He said the Committee on Host Communities would pay visits to the host communities in the Niger Delta region to ensure that they benefit from federal government initiatives to bring development in those regions.
In his remarks, Mr. Edobor Iyamu, SSA to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, said from his experience working in the Niger Delta region, the locals’ interest have always been premised on what the Federal Government is doing to bring development to the Niger Delta.
He noted that most Niger Delta indigenes were oblivious to the fact that monies are allocated for development in those communities to the state governments. He stated that a lot more could be done in terms of development in the region, using the fund.
In his view, he suggested that more discussions should be around the quantum and utilization of the derivation fund in the Niger Delta region.
Also speaking, Mr Charles Achodo, Senior Assistant to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, observed that the issues within the Niger Delta were around the need for more resources or delivery modalities to bring development across the Niger Delta.
He noted that more emphasis should be given to the relationship between the percentage of derivation allocated and projects carried out in host communities, noting the need for a comparative study across the region.