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Derivation: North’s position a joke, say S/South, S/West leaders

March 18, 2012

Culled from The Nation, Sunday 18th March 2012

THE fire ignited by Dr. Junaid Mohammed and the Coalition of Northern Leaders, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen continued to rage yesterday as many activists and leaders from the South picked the gauntlet to dispute the contention of the North on revenue allocation to Niger Delta States.

Former leader of the Ijaw National Council, Professor Kimse Okoko told The Nation on telephone that the North’s position stemmed from indolence and increased lack of initiative. Reacting to the coalition’s contention that about 70 per cent of Nigeria’s oil revenue derives from off-shore locations, Okoko said, “they are merely trying to reap from where they did not sow.”

Okoko who is a Political Scientist said: “On this on-shore off-shore debate, they are merely wasting their time. It is already settled. How can anyone argue that oil found off-shore belongs to nobody; no community? What about the effect of spillages on communities in the area? What about environmental pollution? All this led to the political solution provided by the Obasanjo administration that was formalized by an Act of Parliament. So, what are they talking about now?”

When told that the North may be heading back to the courts for interpretation of the Constitution, hinging its argument on the 2002 judgment by the apex court, Okoko insisted that it is a “specious argument”. He contended that “they are not looking at things objectively. They cannot threaten us with the courts. The law is meant to be interpreted for the people.”

Lagos lawyer Femi Falana, holds a similar view. He   sees no logic in the submission of the Northern coalition and its spokesman. On the call to review revenue allocation along the line of the Northern submission, he said: “It is a dubious justification of the economic crimes committed by a bankrupt class. The campaign for more funds is to further enrich the northern faction of the ruling class. Some of the states in the north are richer than some African states. Right now, we import beans from Burkina Faso, a landlocked country.

“In the Second Republic, Governor Abubakar Rimi of Kano won the UNESCO award for promoting education. The reactionary ruling oligarchy removed Rimi and replaced him with Bakin Zuwo. Balarabe Musa was impeached by the same forces of retrogression to stop the march against illiteracy and ignorance.

“Today, most states in the north and south have refused to comply with the UBE law which provides for free and compulsory education for every child from primary to junior secondary school. While Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was blaming the poverty in the North and the Boko Haram menace in the North East on 13 percent derivation, Mr. Atedo Peterside blamed poverty in the North East on Lagosians who have four cars. With voodoo economic advisers like Sanusi and Peterside, the transformation agenda of President Jonathan is a huge joke.”

Falana urged all the leaders to first commit themselves to the socio economic rights enshrined in the constitution before agitating for devolution of powers, fiscal federalism, Sovereign National Conference and a new revenue allocation formula.”

Secretary General of the National Democratic Coalition, Mr. Ayo Opadokun warned that the North may be embarking on self destruct by the position it has taken. While querying the legitimacy of the mandate of the Junaid Mohammed group, Opadokun said: “Perhaps the people who call themselves the coalition for the North do not appreciate the gravity of the national question and are not in touch with historical facts. They are not being helpful to Nigeria.

“If they are, they would realize that when the agitation for resource control for oil was hot, Nigeria could not lift more than 700,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Yet, we had an OPEC quota of more than two million.

“It took a calm, reasonable and logical Yar’Adua to work out the Amnesty deal that restored some order and allowed us to lift oil. This fact should not be lost on the current self appointed champions of Northern cause.

To drive home the point, Mr. Opadokun said, “given the situation at hand in the country, there is already mutual distrust among the component parts. If this people continue with their campaign,  the South South may take otherwise non-palatable decisions. This is an inauspicious moment to raise these issues.”

However, he agreed that there are leaders in the Niger Delta region who have been fleecing their own people. He cited the revelations in a London court that convicted former Delta State Governor James Ibori as an example of mindless profligacy in the region. He said others like the Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi could point to tangible things done with the people’s wealth.

Mr. Opadokun, however, agreed that only the Niger Delta people can effect a change. He said, “that does not mean that people outside the region should begin to manipulate the system to their own advantage as the Northern group appears to be doing.”

Another NADECO chieftain, Chief Ayo Adebanjo said the North “is very unrealistic and their demands are not in tune with the principles of true federalism.”

Okoko, Adebanjo and Opadokun reasoned that the only way out of the logjam is for a national conference where all the issues will be canvassed and resolved.

The inexorable move towards a national conference is on. Almost all the zones are holding meetings to serve notice on their respective positions and prepare for the hard tackles that may be required. The South West has been helped by the emergence of a dominant tendency. The governors and other leaders have been meeting to fashion out common positions on all issues. The integration agenda is one of the products of the meetings.

The South South, too, through the BRACED arrangement involving the six states are working out political and economic integrative agenda. Top of the demands are fiscal federalism that would allow the federating units control the exploration and marketing of their mineral resources with tax being paid to the centre as was the situation in the First Republic.

All the tree Northern zones seem to be agreed on the issues being canvassed, especially a revisit of the revenue allocation formula in favour of non-oil producing states. They are calling for strict adherence to provisions of section 162 of the Constitution and its interpretation by the Supreme Court in April 2002.

Dr. Mohammed has served notice that the matter may be taken back to the judiciary for adjudication. While those arguing for 13 per cent derivation say the 2004 Act of the National Assembly had ratified the formula, the Northern spokesmen argue that the constitution is, and should be, supreme and does not contemplate political solution.

Another Lagos lawyer, Dr. Soni Ajala said: “it is clear from the proviso to Section 162 (2) of the 1999 Constitution that the principle of derivation is to be reflected constantly in the formula to be approved by the National Assembly, which shall not be be less than 13% of the revenue accruing to the Federation Account directly from the natural resources. The proviso are not limited to littoral States but all States from which revenue is derived from their natural resources.’

“From the above far sighted pronouncement of the apex court, it stands to reason that the present revenue sharing formula until it is modified by the National Assembly on the recommendation of the Presidency is very much in sync with the Supreme Court judgment.

“The revenue formula is also in substantial compliance with the international Law of the Sea. This point was exhaustively addressed by the Supreme Court in the same judgment.

“The argument on the status of Abuja is untrue and indeed belated. The Decree that established Abuja as the Federal Capital Territory is clear on the status, legal and otherwise of Abuja. And the original indigenes of Abuja FCT who were mainly from present Niger State, Kwara State and Nasarawa State were duly compensated monetarily and by re-settlement. Even till date, the re-settlement of the indigene of Abuja is an on-going exercise of the Federal government through the Federal Capital Administration Authority.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. chris onodjacha permalink
    March 18, 2012 20:01

    A sovereign National Conference remains the solution to our ocean of problems!

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