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Criticisms won’t stop agitation for new revenue formula – Northern Governors

March 8, 2012

Source: Segun Olatunji, Punch

The 19 Northern state governors on Wednesday in Kaduna said they would not be intimidated by the criticisms that their demand for a review of the nation’s revenue sharing formula had attracted.

The Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, stated this while delivering a speech at the 6th Annual Conference and General Assembly of the Society for Peace Studies and Practice organised in collaboration with the Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Centre, Jaji, Kaduna State.

He said, “We did not attack derivation, even during independence there was the principle of derivation. But till tomorrow I will continue to talk about the oil wells that are there in the ocean, 200 miles away. It does not belong to any state. There is a Supreme Court judgment on that and we do understand that the National Assembly passed a bill. But the president of that time, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, refused to sign that bill and they overruled him.

“So, I want to know maybe there are lawyers here to tell me, when there is a Supreme Court judgment and then later the National Assembly passes the law, which one should I stand upon? That’s all I’m asking. But you see every newspaper you pick today, and column writer, is giving it a wrong interpretation. But believe me, we shall not be intimidated because we know without equity there will be no peace.”

The governor argued that the review of the current revenue formula was long overdue, adding that the constitution stipulated that the exercise be carried out every 10 years.

Aliyu blamed the lopsidedness in the sharing of the country’s revenue for the inability of the Northern states to embark on developmental projects.

He stressed that the Northern governors would continue to hammer on the need for a review of the revenue sharing formula to reflect the “current realities in the country”.

The NGF chairman added that the Northern states wanted the current revenue formula changed because they felt that they were being short-changed by the rest of the country.

He said, “We, as governors, have a lot of expectations from the public. Everybody wants the governor to do this and that. Yet, our diamond and gold have not come out from the ground and even our oil from the Chad Basin has not come out from the ground. So there is a limit to what any Northern state would be able to do.

“So, if you hear us cry for the improvement of the revenue formula, it is because we believe that we are being short-changed. The Constitution says that the revenue formula should be changed or should be looked at every 10 years and in some countries every five years. It is now over 20 years that our revenue formula was looked into. We made that statement and believe me, since we made that statement, people have decided to misread because they are looking for things to do.”

Aliyu said that efforts must be made by all to stop all those who usually hid under the cover of religion and ethnicity to carry out terrorist activities.

He stated that there was no religious justification for anyone to act as a suicide bomber, adding that having read his Qur’an and Bible thoroughly, he found out that neither Islam nor Christianity preached violence.

He said, “If you commit suicide as a Muslim, you will go to hell directly. It is wrong to think that one can commit suicide in the name of defending Islam.”

On the projection that Nigeria would eventually disintegrate and break up, Aliyu argued that the country was “too interwoven” to suffer such a fate.

“Those countries of the world which see themselves as the police of the world have to be fair. The essence of their operation should be to protect the strong and defend the weak, not to oppress them,” Aliyu said.

Earlier in his welcome address, Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna State had stressed that peace was a prerequisite for meaningful development.

Yakowa, however, expressed regret that the last April post-presidential election violence shattered the relative peace the state had enjoyed for some time.

Also in his address on the occasion, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Azubuike Ihejirika, blamed the recent escalation of violence in the country on her porous borders.

Ihejirika argued that through the nation’s porous borders, “negative elements” had easy access into the country.

The COAS, however, stated that adequate intelligence, collaboration with external partners and coordination among intelligence agencies within Nigeria were the best ways of addressing the current security challenges in the country.

Ihijerika also said citizens’ participation was imperative in order to achieve victory in the war against internal security challenges, adding, “these negative elements mostly utilise irregular routes through villages and farm settlements.”

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