By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
HOST oil and gas producing communities of Nigeria, have lashed out at Governors of Niger Delta states over purported mismanagement of the 13 percent Derivation Funds, demanding amendment to the sharing formula, which they have forwarded to the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC.
National President of Host Communities of Nigeria, HOSTCON, Chief Benjamin Tamaranebi, told Vanguard that the host communities no longer want their governors to spend the entire 13 percent derivation alone, rather they prefer an enabling law commanding the governors to remit 50 per cent of 13 per cent derivation to the Host Community Trust Fund, HCTF, as provided in the Petroleum Industry Act, PIA.
HOSTCOM led by Tamaranebi in a letter to the Chairman, RMAFC, obtained by Vanguard, said: “We recommend that the 1999 Constitution be revisited and amended to include the 50 percent of the 13 percent derivation funds held in trust for and on behalf of the host communities by the state governments be amended to be remitted directly into a dedicated established host communities account.”
“2. 3 percent and 50 percent of the 13 percent derivation funds shall be exclusively used for the areas producing the oil and gas to involve the traditional rulers and their communities in the management of the funds as contained in the PIA clauses and also include/allow the HOSTCOM organisation to have an oversight function for accountability, transparency and good governance (ATG),” it said.
Tamaranebi, who confirmed the position of the host communities, said: “The changing realities are the reason we call for the amendment in the 1999 Constitution to reflect the cognizance of the Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas inclusion and the remittance of all funds concerning the host communities into one dedicated central purse or commission for the sustainable development of the area.”
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Remarking that 13 percent derivation was never meant to be part of amalgamated revenue of state governments, he said: “The funds should not form part of the consolidated revenue of the beneficiary state governments. Consequently, that the funds should be exclusively used by the states and local governments for the direct benefit of the communities in the areas.
“The then former President Olusegun Obasanjo based on the prevailing clauses in the 1999 constitution agreed with the host communities that the state government should hold in trust for and on behalf of the oil mineral producing areas the fund and form a commission to facilitate the funds directly to the host communities’ development.
“Incredibly as it may sound, trillions of naira of the 13 percent allocation funds were received by the state governments and gone down the drain to date, leaving the host communities in shambles and underdevelopment notwithstanding the various agencies established to facilitate grassroots development,” he said.
He said it was because there was no statutory provision in the 1999 Constitution to allocate the funds directly to the host communities that state grassroots government was allowed to hold the money in trust for them, all these years.
Meanwhile, efforts to get reaction of South South Governors Forum chairman, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, to HOTSCON’s demand didn’t yield positive result at press time.
According to him: “The dependence on oil seems to be increasingly threatening not only the security of the nation but also its very existence as a corporate entity. The restiveness of the youth in the oil-producing areas occasioned by the negative impact of oil and gas exploitation and exploration and the urge for resource control by the political class are all syndromes and complications arising from this dependence on a mono-product economy.
“For over 63 years of agony occasioned by the aforementioned above inspired President Muhammadu Buhari, who deemed it fit to give cognizance to the host communities producing oil and gas (HOSTCOM) also ensured that we were incorporated, gazetted and provided with 3 percent Upstream OPEX allocation directly to (HOSTCOM).
“In accordance with Section 162(2) of the 1999 Constitution, the commission had cause to withdraw the entire report of the initial revenue allocation following the judgment of the Supreme Court in Suit No.SC28/2001 of April 5, 2002, popularly known as resource control suit, which declared illegal current allocations to Special Funds.
“The import of the court’s judgment is the necessity for a thorough review of the Report on a new Revenue Allocation Formula. This brings us to the issue of the 13 percent derivation revenue fund intended to improve the quality of life of the beneficiaries at the grassroots, which of course made the state and local government development-oriented in its utilization in order to ameliorate the restiveness of the militant youths caused by the IOCs operational environmental degradation, desecrated eco-system and the deplorable poverty in the land.
“This brings us to the host communities’ agitation during the public hearing on the petroleum industry legal framework, transparency and good governance that this administration under the Hon. Minister of State for Petroleum – Chief Timpre Sylva, led by President Buhari magnanimously with strong and unwavering political will in the 2021 PIA not only gave cognizance to us in ensuring that we were gazetted but also provided a statutory three percent Upstream OPEX for HOSTCOM as contained in the PIA section 234 and 235,” he added.