2023: It's non-negotiable, southerner must succeed Buhari — PANDEF 

• Bill to stop 13% a time bomb — Ambakederimo, Umoh

•Nothing wrong with bill – Sara-Igbe, Nwauju

By Emma Amaize, Sam Oyadongha, Egufe Yafugborhi, Harris Emanuel & Chioma Onuegbu

THE Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, regional body of the coastal states of the Niger Delta, yesterday, demanded increase in oil derivation from 13 per cent to 50 per cent, vowing that the “satanic and legislative coup” against Niger Delta region by 59 members of the House of Representatives to change the Constitution cannot stand.

Recall that some members of the House of Representatives have proposed through a bill to delete Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to enable payment of 13 percent derivation directly to the host communities through the Host Communities Trust Fund as provided in the Petroleum Industry Act, PIA, rather than governors of the oil producing states.

Convener of the South-South Reawakening Group, SSRG, Joseph Ambakerderimo, lawyer and rights activist, Inibehe Effiong lambasted the sponsors of the bill, saying they were narrow-minded in their reasoning.

But National Coordinator South-South Elders Forum, HRH Anabs Sara-Igbe and Spokesman, Niger Delta Rights Advocates, Darlington Nwauju, disagreed, maintaining there was nothing immoral with the bill.

However, some others, including renowned environmental activist, Alagoa Morris and former Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Peter Umoh, called for caution in handling the matter.    In a communique by National Chairman, Senator Emmanuel Essien and five other officials, PANDEF condemned the obnoxious and satanic Bill.

Other signatories were Chief Thompson Okorotie, Deputy National Chairman, Bayelsa State; Senator Bassey Ewa- Henshaw, Cross Rivers State chairman; Prof. G. Darah, Delta State chairman; Dame Betty Igbeyi, Ntional Woman Leader, Edo State; and  Prof. B. Fakae, member, BoT, Rivers State

The group said: “The position of the Niger Delta people is 50 per cent derivation, and nothing less.

“The Niger Delta people are ready and mobilised to dispense full resistance against this wicked machination and any future attempt to further economically emasculate the region and its people. We will resist this satanic and senseless coup with every fibre in our being. If they move one more step, we will respond in kind.

“President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly should focus attention on addressing the fundamental issues confronting the country, instead of further stoking the ambers of discord and disharmony.

“The extant 13 percent derivation has not been reviewed for 22 years, despite the constitutional provision for review of revenue allocation every five years, to reflect changing economic realities.

READ ALSO: PANDEF tasks Dikio to sustain reforms in PAP

 “Consequently, we demand an immediate increase of the 13 percent derivation to 50 per cent,” it said.

Recipe for disaster, says Ambakederimo            

Ambakederimo told Vanguard in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State: “The bill as proposed for Host Communities Trust Fund to become the beneficiary on behalf of the communities is a recipe for disaster across the Niger Delta region. The sponsor(s) of this bill do not appear to understand what their actions are about to cause.

“Yes we agree that the governors have not been able to truly account for the expenditures of the 13 percent derivation money, is it the communities or the host communities trust fund that could properly manage such monies to the benefit of all?

“I tell you if such comes to be, then the bandits operating in the northern part of the country would be a child’s play. It is still not known how best we are going to manage the three percent allocated to the Host communities Trust Fund in the PIA.”

It’s in bad faith – Effiong

Activist, Effiong, said in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state “While it is true that most of the 13 percent derivation was stolen by governors and other leaders of the Niger Delta, the proposal to transfer the 13 percent from states to host communities is in bad faith.

“I see it as an attempt to deprive the people of the Niger Delta of increased revenue. M &ue should be allocated for the host communities which should be different from 13 percent derivation currently accruing to the states.

“This bill is a political attempt to distract Nigerians from the marginalization of host communities in the PIA.”

Govs, lawmakers, host communities should agree -Umoh    On his part, Umoh, said: “It is unfortunate that the relationship between members of the state, National Assemblies and the governors do not seem to be working well. If they (leaders) were to be working together, some of these problems would not be happening.

“If there is good understanding between the governors, the host communities and their legislators, a lot can be achieved locally and at the state level. I am speaking as a former chairman of a council and as a former state and national legislator.

“Again it is important for the governors to listen to the cries of the host communities. It is painful if oil and gas flow from your place and your people are suffering from negative effects and you are hearing of how billions of naira or dollars are going to your state government, whereas for four years nothing is happening in your place.

“That is not a good thing to happen to such communities. There should be a balance, and that balance should be struck politically.”

IOCs, outsiders shouldn’t decide for us – Morris

Morris, who spoke in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, said:  “Unfortunately, some states like Bayelsa have bluntly refused to allow oil/gas producing communities have a sense of belonging as the governors and budget/loans -approving state House of Assembly have made the 13 percent appears as if it was meant for political office holders to use as they wish.

“Some of us, right from when ex-President Goodluck Jonathan was governor of Bayelsa State, advocated for the state government to establish a state version of the NDDC to ensure the communities feel the 13 percent. Though the civil society submitted two private bills to that effect and women peacefully protested in favour of it, all fell on deaf ears. I still stand on ground, not the newly suggested bill at the National Assembly.

“I say so because I will not support completely a scenario whereby people from other regions will be part of the decision-making on how 13 percent should be spent or distributed. It should be a Niger Delta or Bayelsa issue and not a Nigerian organisation like NDDC, where people from every corner are coming to influence. Oil companies and people from other regions should not come and be part of the management of 13 percent.”

Why I support bill – HRH Sara-Igbe

From Rivers State, HRH Sara-Igbe said: “I am totally in support of 13 percent derivation being paid directly to the host communities and not to state governments.

“Most of the problems that we face in the Niger Delta are caused by the Niger-Deltans themselves. Resource control struggle finally brought 13 per cent derivation. Today, the governors are using the 13 percent derivation as if it is their money.

“The governors are not using it to develop the oil-bearing communities, rather all we see is mockery – ‘I have developed my place if you like develop your own.’ Derivation is specifically meant for the communities, it was not meant for the entire state. But today, are oil-bearing communities benefiting from it? “

Vanguard News Nigeria

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