Resource Control


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Resource Control: Anger Everywhere!




Emma Amaize




culled from VANGUARD, July 3, 2005


North Vs S-South: Derivation deadlock lingers

IT was not for lack of what to say or do that President Olusegun Obasanjo hollered , last week, that he might adjourn indefinitely the National Political Reform Conference (NPRC), his version of the Sovereign National Conference (SNC) which elder statesman, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka and other Nigerians clamored for before he assumed office in 1999 as the nation’s third elected ruler. Those conversant with the nuances of this retired General of the Nigerian Army, know that he is not used to raising false alarm.

The President who held separate close-door meetings with South-South and Northern governors, some days earlier, on the hullabaloo surrounding the increase by a marginal four per cent of the 13 per cent derivation to the oil producing states, has sufficient reasons to be befuddled. Laid bare on his table at the Presidential Villa, Abuja was an intelligence report which indicated that the charged atmosphere among the delegates at the confab might lead to a conflagration in the country if the bone of contention was not properly handled. Not oblivious of the recent doomsday apocalypse by the United States, OBJ as the President is fondly called, was taken more aback as the governors refused to see the handwriting on the wall from the same lens he was viewing it.

Inescapable imbroglio

The raging impasse is, however, an inevitability that had been waiting to happen since oil was first struck at Oloibiri in Bayelsa state in 1956. The Northern delegates to the conference argued that there was no justifiable reason for the South-South which is presently receiving 13 per cent derivation from oil produced from its area to be asking for a derivation of 50 per cent. The South-South delegates on their part, insisted that their zone was entitled to 100 per cent control of its resources but in view of the fact that they ought to be their brother’s keeper, they would make do with 50 per cent.

Since the confab was forced to adjourn, Tuesday, June 14, when South-South delegates stormed out of the conference following the controversial adoption of the report of the Prof. Joe Irukwu-led Leaders’ committee, which recommended only four per cent increase in the prevailing 13 per cent derivation and claimed that it was a consensus agreement, there is no respite yet as both the North and South-South were digging more trenches.

Today, one of the most critical questions in the country is how does it get out of the logjam. The answers are as varied as the speakers and their geo-political zones but some in-roads have been made in the past two weeks with the South-West which was initially divided on the matter, deciding to throw its weight behind the South-South and the South-East also ready to queue behind. The Middle Belt has explained why its delegates did not walk out in solidarity with their South-South delegates, especially as the former Defence Minister, General T.Y. Danjuma, openly declared the support of the group for the 50 per cent derivation quest by the South-South at the last South-South/Middle Belt meeting held in Port-Harcourt, Rivers state.

Was there a precedent?

The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Tuesday at Kaduna called on all Nigerians to reject the increase in the 13 per cent derivation for the oil producing states. The umbrella Northern group stated that there was no need for the 17 per cent that was already approved by the NPRC, which it described as “an excessive generosity” or the 50 per cent over the next five years demanded by the South-South.. It asserted in a statement, signed by its spokesman, Alhaji Aliyu Hayatu that the South-South demand was unwarranted and an act of blackmail. Two Northern leaders and former Ministers, Alhaji Umaru Dikko and Prof. Musa Yakubu, had earlier dismissed the case by the South-South for increase in derivation but the questions Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark; legal luminary, Prof. Itse Sagay; the leader of the Edo state House of Assembly, Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon and other South-Southerners were asking are: whether there was a precedent before now on 50 per cent derivation; if there was, why is it that it should not be applicable now?

Clearly, there is a precedent in the 50 per cent derivation which the South-South is asking for. The Northern, Eastern and Western regions enjoyed in the past and it is Constitutional. Section 140 of the 1960 and 1963 Constitutions stipulated that for the sharing of the proceeds of minerals including mineral oil, “there shall be paid by the Federal Government to a Region, a sum equal to 50 per cent of the proceeds of any royalty received by the Federation in respect of any mineral extracted in that region and any mining rents derived by the Federal Government from within any region”.

By Section 136 (1), 30 per cent of general import duties were paid into a distributable pool for the benefit of the regions. With regard to import duties on petrol, diesel and tobacco, the total sum of import duty collected, less administrative expenses, were fully payable to the region for which the petrol or diesel or tobacco was destined.

The proceeds of export duty on produce, that is cocoa, palm oil, groundnuts , rubber, hides and skins, were shared on equal proportion of that commodity that was derived from a particular region. The summary of revenue allocation in the 1960/1963 Constitutions ,according to Prof. Sagay, is that 50 per cent of proceeds went to all regions from which minerals, including mineral oil were extracted; 30 per cent went into the distributable pool (for all regions, including the producing regions); 20 per cent for the Federal Government; 30 per cent of import duties went into distributable pool; import duty on petrol and diesel consigned to any region was refundable to that region and this was also applicable to excise duty on tobacco.
Chief Clark told Sunday Vanguard that “it was with the 50 per cent derivation money collected by the North and Western regions that their governments were able to develop the North and West in those days. You heard of Cocoa House, Ibadan and other edifices in Yoruba and Hausa lands”.

Reacting to the assertion that the demand for 50 per cent derivation by the South-South was unwarranted and an act of blackmail, Hon Obahigbon said: “You can see for yourself who the blackmailer is and whether our demand is unwarranted. At the time that the North which is opposing us enjoyed 50 per cent derivation, it was not unwarranted and they were not blackmailing the country. Now that the South-South is supposed to enjoy the same thing, it has become unwarranted and act of blackmail. This is what we are saying that we cannot accept if we are to remain as one Nigeria. What is good for the goose should be good for the gander also”.

Said Obahiagbon: “The position of the Arewa irredentists that they do not even agree with the unacceptable 17 per cent formula smacks of political iconoclasm and a clear indication that they want the country to break into two”. In view of this, he suggested that the South-South should vigorously pursue the decision that no Northern presidential candidate be allowed to campaign in the Niger Delta in 2007 if the North remains politically refractory to the equitable demands of the zone”.

How 50% derivation was tampered with

Derivation as a component part of true fiscal federalism, was operated in the country until the advent of the military in the sixties. The soldiers dislocated the federal structure of government which was negotiated by the founding fathers of the nation. Federalism was the acceptable system of government for the various ethnic nationalities: Yoruba, Hausa, Ibo, Fulani, Nupe, Kanuri, Ogoni, Gwari, Kataf, Jukar, Edo, Ibibio, Efik, Idoma, Tiv, Junkun, Birom, Anga, Ogoja, Itsekiri, Urhobo , Ijaw, etc, which came together in the project called Nigeria and the autonomy of the three regions, Northern, Eastern, Western and later Midwest, created by plebiscite, to the central government was preserved.

Gowon started it With the unitary (command) system of government brought by the military, the powers of the regions, later states, were emasculated. General Yakubu Gowon started the ““stripping”” exercise when he conferred on the Federal Military, the powers to make laws for the peace , order and good government for the whole of Nigeria with respect to any matter whatsoever. This was a blatant and flagrant encroachment into the regions.

Between the independence year, 1960 and 1967 when the civil war started, 50 per cent derivation still went to the producing states but by 1969, the military government, representing the ruling class of the Northern majority, expropriated to the Federal Government by Petroleum Decree, No 51, the ownership and control of all petroleum resources in, under or upon any land in Nigeria. All the envisaged and targeted petroleum resources were in the South-South region and oil had become the mainstay of the nation . By virtue of this law, individuals, communities, local governments and states on or under whose land minerals are found, were denied their right to the minerals.

Between 1969 and 1971, the Federal Government under General Gowon expropriated five per cent from the 50 per cent meant for the producing states, bringing its total to 55 per cent and 45 per cent for the former. By 1975 –– 1979, President Obasanjo as the military Head of State between 1975 ––1979, made it 80 per cent plus off-shore proceeds for the federal and 20 per cent minus off-shore proceeds for the producing states, while Shagari committed the worst assault on derivation

Alhaji Shehu Shagari’’s government between 1979 ––1981, took the entire 100 per cent for the federal. The late Prof. Ambrose Alli, former governor of the defunct Bendel State, could not stomach the indignity and off, he went to court. The federal government was, however, compelled to relinquish a mere one and half per cent to the producing states between 1982 ––1992 .It was increased to three per cent minus off-shore proceeds to the producing states between 1992-1999 and 97 per cent for the federal under the late General Sani Abacha. The Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar regime approved the present 13 per cent in 1999.

It must be stated that the dispossession were not done with the best of intention for the South-South, the Niger-Delta or the oil producing states. The successive federal governments were actually able to achieve their desires because the Heads of governments at the respective times, were not from the oil producing states which would benefit from the 50 per cent derivation on oil. So it was more expedient for them to deny the oil states of their 50 per cent derivation proceeds.

The excuse given by the military in tampering with the 50 per cent derivation was that they needed the money to prosecute the war. But the chairman of the South-South Peoples Assembly (SSPA), Edo state, Brigadier General Idada Ikponmwen, was still at a loss over why the it has not been reversed to the status quo. In his words: “There is no excuse whatsoever for not reverting to this principle since Nigeria is no longer prosecuting a civil war and since the unitary military system has since given way to a federal democratic system”.

Resource Control is a different struggle

Much as ownership and control of mineral resources by the producing state or community are vital ingredients of true fiscal federalism, it must be noted that the 1960 Constitution did not at any time provide for it. What was recognized is the derivation principle. Both are two different but related things. Derivation principle is an economic indication of true federalism and the agitation for resource control by the South-South is not the same as its derivative rights from the oil produced in the region. If granted control of its resources, the owner of the resources, be it oil, gold, diamond, bitumen, cocoa, groundnut, etc at Calabar, Enugu, Ibadan, Jos, Kano, Sokoto and Lagos, is only expected to pay tax to the central government in a federal system of government. Derivation and resource control is for everybody, community, local government or state in the country, not the South-South alone.

Anything wrong with the expropriation

Absolutely yes, because the basis on which the ethnic nationalities agreed to come together as one nation has been nullified. Moreover, nothing in the true sense of the word, tangible, is being done to cushion the effects of environmental degradation on these oil communities and states. Oloibiri has been left in a desolate state after its oil was plundered by the Nigerian state. Farmers and fishermen in 35 communities in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta state cannot fish or farm presently because their waters and lands have been polluted by oil spillage. At Sarubowei, an Ijaw community in Delta state, the villagers are being affected by some ailments, allegedly occasioned by gas flaring. So much money is needed to develop the swampy terrain in these areas and 13 per cent derivation cannot solve it.

 Abuja and other cities were developed with money made from the oil states and the communities from which the resources were plundered cannot boast of potable drinking water, let alone good roads or electricity. In most cases, indigenes of non-oil states were given rights by the Federal Government to prospect for oil in these communities and they hold virtually all the top management positions. The oil companies to whom the Federal Government gave the power to explore oil in these communities treat them as conquered people while the Federal Government itself care less. The interventionist agencies it set up to assuage their anger were not adequately funded to carry out meaningful projects in the areas.

In the words of Chief Clark who spoke to newsmen, Tuesday, at Osubi Airport in Delta state: ““Our rivers are dead, our lands are dead, our people are dying from strange diseases. We will not sit back and allow other people enjoy our wealth at our own expense”.

Northern arrogance

In its stoic objection to the 50 per cent derivation demand by the South-South, the Northerners, mainly the North West and the North East, have acted as if it was a taboo to make the request in the first instance and that explains the aversion by one of the leaders that the matter would not be re-opened again at the conference and that even if the South-South come back, they would only be coming to the plenary session to have their say for record purposes.

Former military Vice President, Admiral Mike Akhigbe (rtd), who was party to several meetings held before and after the logjam with leaders of the other zones to find common grounds on the grey areas captured his experience thus at the meeting of the Edo state chapter of the South-South Peoples Assembly (SSPA) in Benin City, last weekend: “For the first time, I got to know that people can promote very negative ideas knowing full well that they are lying and they will continue or still be lying. It was a very unusual experience for me. And these are people that have assured you of their commitment earlier but when it comes to the point of voting or delivery, you find a different action”.

“I am not used to such dishonorable practices but I have now come to realize that one of the major problems confronting this country is that people say one thing and do a different thing. I must tell you that one of the major challenges we had was at the Leaders Council where we (South-South) found that people wanted to make decisions not based on principles but based on values that we went to pursue but rather based on selfish interest. This is what led to quite a lot of disagreement and we found at one point that we are being isolated even when we disagreed, there was a new definition of consensus that even if you do not agree, we assure that you can live with it”, he added.
According to him, “in principle, our colleagues agree with us but in practice, they have not been able to deliver. This is the bone of contention”.

Hon Obahiagbon was piqued that even after the North discovered that the procedure used by the confab in adopting the contentious Leaders’’ report on 17 per cent derivation was wrong and pleaded with our delegates to come back, they suddenly sent a letter to say that any attempt to revisit the matter would be resisted.

Derivation is our right –– Dokpesi

National chairman of the South-South Peoples Assembly (SSPA), High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, said: ““Deprivation is our right, the South-South cannot sacrifice our rights, we must go back and form a strong resistance, we must tell them that that we are committed to the unity and peace of this country but we must have our rights. Our rights must be respected. Some of my Northern brothers have argued that they were being misunderstood but the North cannot dictate to us on how our money will be used. The money is not theirs. The Middle Belt has not been able to come out fully to identify with us because they too are in the same position we are. The original Middle Beltans are also being oppressed by the major powerful groups that are oppressing us, the same group that we gave our loyalty to since the fifties as a zone, we are saying this is the payback period. If a boy continues to serve, does he not get freedom”.
He said that “the SSPA is not antagonizing the core North as they want the rest of the world to believe. All we are saying is that they should see our own plight”.

We never compromised –– Akhigbe

Chief Odigie-Oyegun was the one who asked Akhigbe at the meeting to throw more light on those who represented South-South in the “Compromising Committee” , where 17 per cent was said to have been agreed by the Leaders’’ Council as a consensus. Admiral Akhigbe explained that: “When we went for the negotiation, we discovered that those who made promises, we could not cash their cheques when it came to time for them to deliver. That was the real handicap we experienced. And therefore, there was obvious effort to make it look as if we all agreed. And I will state clearly that when Prof. Irukwu was presenting the report, the first issue that arose was that the report was not concluded.

We were still insisting that we will not accept a position that appears to be pre-determined. There was a draft by Chief Emeka Anyaoku suggesting that we will accept that position and then, the chairman of that committee was trying to say that we should accept it, particularly when there was a passionate plea by Alhaji Umaru Dikko at the time of the discussion, everybody agreed on 17 per cent but what will he take back to his people. He started calculating bogus figures as to what will go to the South-South and other regions and therefore tried to influence emotions. Then I pointed out that even in this issue of producing states, my state, Edo is the least oil producing state in the zone and we are not fighting for selfish interest; that we are fighting for principles that once you are entitled to the principle, whether it is favourable to A,B or C, it becomes a principle that is applicable to all the resources that are recognized.

This was the position that was presented by Chief Mathew Mbu, the leader of the South-South delegation to the confab and we insisted on that position but they came up with a contention that though 25 per cent was suggested as interim position which we accepted, we said yes, we will have 25 per cent now , that it should be graduated to 50 per cent within five years.

The reason why we accepted 25 per cent is because we recognized that those who are preparing budget will suddenly find themselves in total difficulty. Our idea was not to destabilize the Federation. We were generous, we were responsible and we were accommodating, that was why we said in the interim, let it be 25 per cent and 50 per cent in the next five years, we never arrived at any compromise on 17 per cent but they came up to say that 17 per cent was suggested by one of the members and that we should take it. All the South-South members rejected it.

Tobi’s faux pas

Chairman of the NPRC, Justice Niki Tobi, started the conference on a very good note and even with natural stern face, he found time to laugh and crack joke at times. But in his bid to show that he was not showing any preference to the cause of his South-South kinsmen, he seemed to have committed a procedural blunder. Even in a village meeting, it is inconceivable that a report of a committee would be adopted hook, line and sinker at the village square without any comment by the people. Even when the leader of a committee tables a report, it is not him or a member of the committee that moves for the adoption, it is somebody else that moves for its adoption for discussion. A situation where a committee report is adopted without discussion even when there are glaring opposition to it on the floor of the House leaves much to be desired. Since no man is above mistake, it is taken that this is one of the mistakes of Justice Tobi which must be corrected in order not to create further room for the hawks at the confab.

The way out The provision of 50 per cent derivation to the producing state in the 1963 Constitution remains a time- tested panacea to the imbroglio. It is injustice when there is a selective sense of justice as has been the case in the expropriation of mineral resources belonging to the South-South. Where there is a wrong, the acceptable remedy is to correct the wrong and not to stick to it. That is what the South-South is saying.

According to Chief Clark, “the North should be held responsible if this country collapses as a result of this debacle became the solution is simple. Let the South-South enjoy 50 per cent derivation as others enjoyed in the past and as provided in the constitution that was agreed by the people and not by military-imposed constitution”.
“We are not saying that we want to enjoy everything alone, give us a portion of this money so that we can develop our own area, so that we can employ our youths. Now, everybody is depending on the revenue from oil, nobody wants to farm, nobody wants to do anything. At the end of the month, everybody goes to Abuja to collect money from the Federation Accounts when our area where the oil is coming from, the people are dying and nobody cares.

For first civilian governor of Edo State, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, “the mandate that the South-South gave to its delegates is to ask for 50 per cent derivation but they have gone too far down, accepting 25 per cent as a benchmark to be graduated to 50 per cent in the next five years. They used their own wisdom to adopt that benchmark and they will be risking their own reputation if they concede half per cent in that 25 per cent. I urge the other zones in the country to accept this wise offer but the only thing I may wish to add is that more time could be given for the build-up to that 50 per cent to extend from five years to 10 years or more”.

Former military administrator of Niger State, Brigadier-General Cletus Emein (rtd), said “We need one another in Nigeria. Every sector and zone and region has enough resources to exploit to realize 50 per cent control. Those in opposition of the demand for increase in derivation should be made to visit the Niger Delta and see the neglect and devastation. If those in opposition want the issue as an excuse to divide this country, so be it”.

A pharmacist and ANPP gubernatorial candidate in the last 2003 elections, Mr. Mathew Urhoghide, said that: “Those opposed to 25 per cent are not being fair and it is laughable when you see a lawyer of Northern origin; a medical doctor of Northern origin and a professor saying that he does not understand what is resource control. I have not seen any one that has made any logical argument to convince the South-South why they should not be asking for resource control. No one. In fact, one of them said the more they mention it, the less sense it makes to him. We are taking so much things for granted in this country. Must it be a northerner, that will decide what others do. If they say they are not revisiting that issue as northern delegates said they would walk out if the matter is revisited, then let the confab be a failure. After all ,our people are not even better, so what are we protecting.

Hon Obahiagbon said inter alia: “That the South-South contributes so much to the distributable pool of this nation is beyond confutation; that 50 per cent was once the benchmark is also trite. Against this backdrop, the only open sesame out of the gridlock is for the Caliphate and its political high priests at the confab to concede that 25 per cent is even a sacrifice. For the South-South, there can be other way out of the present phantasmagoria, it is either 25 per cent benchmark or nothing. And that is a political Hobson’s choice”.

Former Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Mr. Emmanuel Okoro, said: “The 25 per cent demand of our delegates cannot be compromised. The on-going confab will disintegrate unless our demand is met. The Northern delegates and their cohorts are politicizing the issues so that we can in exchange, compromise sensitive political and economic positions to them. That also our people would resist. Failure to agree to our request would be dangerous to the entire socio - economic and political fabric of not only our nascent democracy but the entire inter and intra relationship of the Nigeria nationhood .

Former President of the Ohaneze Ndigbo in Delta South and North Senatorial Districts, Sir Peter Chukwu, said “the 25 per cent being demanded by the South-South as a benchmark is reasonable enough. Nigerians should grant them that percentage, it is fair. Compared to their huge economic contribution to the nation, what they are asking for is a peanut because I know that if this oil was found in the North or West, they cannot accept 50 per cent only, they would have asked for and enforce an increase on the 50 per cent that came into being since 1960. They would not have tampered with the derivation principle if oil was found in any of the majority ethnic tribes.

President of the Africa Network for Environmental and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), Mr. David Ugolor, told Sunday Vanguard that: “The best approach is for the South-South to bring on board intellectual analysis of the plight of the Niger Deltans. Ownership is not the question. The debate is like we need the money and it is a narrow concept. We need to highlight the consequences of oil and gas exploitation and exploration on our environment and people. It is so huge and the challenge is to redress the damage, the NDDC cannot address it. It is in the interest of Nigeria for the damage to the Niger Delta to be addressed.

Those who say it is not much should visit Oloibiri. What I expect the South-South to be talking about is that they want more funds because there is need to set money aside for future generations and that is what Norwegians did with the Norwegian Trust Fund. Their children wont suffer because investment had been made for the children yet unborn. I would want the South-South states to invest the derivation money on projects that would benefit their people in the long run. Take the Delta State investment in ECONET, I am not saying that is the best thing but they should think of what the children yet unborn in Delta will enjoy after oil would have dried up in their land .

First Republic parliamentarian, Chief J.E. Ukueku told Sunday Vanguard that the problem was caused by the forcible administration of the country by the military, starting from January 15,1966. It is therefore my advice that we should return to the 1960 and 1963 Constitutions. However, we do observe that the components of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in that constitution was four: Northern region, Eastern region, Western region and Mid-Western region. Now, the newly created six political zones have now been accepted as replacement for the four regions as it was before the military intervention. Therefore, for a neater component of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Olusegun Obasanjo should send a Bill for amendment of the constitution to the National Assembly to recite that these six political zones be and should be the components of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and should replace the 36 states obnoxiously created by military fiat.

He said that both the 1960/63 Constitutions were “instigated by our eminent founders namely; Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa for the Northern region; Chief Obafemi Awolowo for the Western region; Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe for the Eastern region and Chief Dennis Osadebey for the Mid-Western region and I find nothing wrong with the said constitutions”.

A one time gubernatorial aspirant in Edo State, Mr. Clifford Ordia, appealed to the North to try and understand the plight of the people of the South-South, adding that “that is the only thing that will bring peace to the country because the exploitation going on in the Niger Delta is so devastating and the only way we can at least allow the sleeping dog lie is by the Northerners acceding to our demand for 25 per cent derivation.

More converts for  South-South

Since the June 14 walk out by South-South delegates, support for their cause has expanded. The South-West which was playing politics with the matter came out openly at Ibadan, Tuesday, June 27, 13 days after the walk out, to support the 25 per cent derivation benchmark of the South-South zone. Governor Rashidi Ladoja of Oyo State, who briefed newsmen on the outcome of the meeting said the South-West delegates had an intial mandate to support a 25 per cent benchmark on derivation. Former Minister of External Affairs, Prof Bolaji Akinyemi, also dismissed the call by some Northern governors on their South-South counterparts to be given account of how they spent 13 per cent derivation they collected before asking for an increase, saying that “it is bad diplomacy for some people to have been asking South-South how they have spent the money derivation given them. It is none of their business”.

The Middle Belt, led by Chief  Solomon Lar had equally visited the South-South delegates to explain why its delegates did not walk out in solidarity with their South-South counterparts, June 14. SSPA chairman, High Chief Dokpesi said that Lar explained that the Middle Belt delegates were prevailed upon by the South-East delegates to wait a while. Leaders of the South-East, Ohaneze Ndigbo, governors from the zone and their delegates have also met over the impasse and they have thrown their support behind the demand for resource control by the South-South but they also called for caution on the matter. The meeting which took place June 24 , at Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, was presided over by the Senate President, Ken Nnamani. However, professionals from the two zones at a meeting presided over, penultimate Sunday , by the former Minister of Finance, Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu, agreed on 50 per cent derivation for the South-South.

Some Northern groups have also lambasted their delegates for opposing the 50 per cent derivation demand of the South-South. It was, however, gathered on good authority that some Northern leaders had approached the South-South to accept 20 per cent and return to the confab.
If the outcome of the rapproachment and separate meetings held by the South- East and South- West with their delegates on the impasse at the confab is anything to go by, then the South -South would be said to have gotten the support of the Yoruba and Igbo, that is two major tribes in the tripod that constitutes the majority in the country. What that means is that the zone, excluding itself has the support of three out of the six zones that make up the country since the critical elements in the North Central, that is the Middle Belt were already in support of the 50 per cent derivation. Arithmetically, that is a ratio of four to two at the moment. But on the floor of the confab, anything can happen. 

North’s game plan

Quite a number of South-Southerners believe, however, that their delegates made an unassailable case at the conference to justify the demand for 50 per cent derivation. According to the Edo State representative in the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Mr. Tom Uloko, any attempt by the confab to recommend that a committee of experts be raised to determine the percentage that would be paid to the South-South should be resisted. He said that the suggestion to raise an expert team was a diversionary plan to kill the matter by the North. Others see the insistence by the North that it would not support an increase in derivation to 50 per  cent as a tactical plan to make the South-South concede Presidency to it in 2007. Some South-South delegates were already falling for the plan until the SSPA warned that the zone would not trade off Presidency for resource control.

Case Closed

Notwithstanding the feelers that some Northern leaders are disposed to the hike of the derivation fund from 17% to 20%, a Northern member of the Confab and former Minister of Mines and Power during Shagari regime, Alkhaji Hassan Ibrahim, at the weekend, foreclosed the issue being revisited by the NPRC.

Said he: “The issue has become a very thorny one. But I assure you that this problem cannot be solved if we continue in certain ways. For it to be solved, the President should stop interfering in the activities of the conference by insisting or compelling or cajoling delegates from the South-West to come and ensure reviews, revisiting of the decisions, which had been already taken by the conference at the plenary session.

“The issue of 17 per cent derivation for instance is supposed to be a closed chapter, and the two-term tenure at the plenary session. For us, we are not willing to revisit the issue, because it has been rightly settled. But insisting that it should will only worsen the problem rather than solving it. Let the delegates agree that a decision has been taken and that it stands at that. This is the only way out, I assure you”.

However, another Northern delegate, Alhaji Iro Dan-Musa, canvassed shifting of grounds by leaders of the geo-political zones to break the logjam. His words: “You  see, the whole conference is about political reform. So I think that this cannot  be achieved without compromise. There is need for sacrifice among the contending parties especially on this issue of resource control. Of course, I know that the South-South feels strongly about the need to even increase the derivation beyond 17per cent, which the North particularly believes should be the ceiling.

In this matter if we both continue to stick to our guns there is no way we can make progress. And that’s why we are where we are now. But you see, it has to be understood that federation is about interdependence. And we should be able to give and take in the over all interest of the nation. Nobody should see the demand as too much. So the leaders should come to a compromise and be able to shift ground a little. I don’t know exactly how that can be done in the practical sense of the derivation percentage crisis. But I know that grounds have to be shifted a little, for us to make progress on he issue”.

Support base for 25 per cent derivation widens

THE battle for increase in the derivation fund due to the oil
producing states has become even more fierce. While the South South has rejected the 17 per cent offered as compromise by the National Political Reform Conference, NPRC, the North has not only threatened to withdraw support for 17 per cent but threatened to stay out of the conference if te leadership caved in to calls to reopen “decided issues”.

One very contentions issue is what was the situation in the First Republic. The South South says 50 per cent was paid to the regions, the North claims what was paid was 50 per cent mining royalties and rents. The 1963 constitution in S. 140 states that: “There shall be paid by the federation to each region a sum equal to fifty per cent of; a) the proceeds of any royalty received by the federation in respect of any minerals extracted in the region; and b) any mining rents derived from within that region.

South West

By the Monday, July 25, Ibadan meeting, delegates from the South West and the state governors have now reportedly pledged their support for the South South demand. It had earlier been reported that the South West delegates were hesitant to adhere to their pre-conference position on derivation which was fixed at 50 per cent.

South East

This is the only zone that identified with the South South from the beginning. At the plenary, South East delegates solidly identified with the South East demand. The Igbo delegate for a restructured federation that would see the emergence of zonal government.

North Central

Delegates from the zone entered into alliance with the South South. However, leaders of the North Central zone were part of the position endorsed and advertised by the entire North last month. In recent times, many delegates from the zone have identified with increased derivation. Representatives of the Middle Belt Forum have publicly supported the South South demand.

North East

There are reports that some “progressive” elements in this zone are beginning to give indications that they could break ranks with the Northern establishment. They might not have approved 25 per cent, but there may soon be a public show of support for another upward adjustment from the 17 per cent.

South South

This is the soul of the struggle for increased derivation. The minimum demand delegates from the zone insist, is 25 per cent.
Forces against
North West: No shaking, delegates from the zone, led by Alhaji Umaru Dikko seem to be saying. In response to the insistence on 25 per cent by the oil rich Niger Delta region, the North West says they would not return to confab if the matter is re-opened.

Is the North West isolated?

This question cannot be answered now. Until confab reconvenes and the delegates who have indicated solidarity with the South South actually prove that they had indeed “repented”, there is no telling where the pendulum would swing. The South South knows this from experience at the conference. After all if the other zones had acted out scripts walk out of the confab on June 14, it would have been the North West and East. But,



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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.