Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
The Derivation Question: A Compromise
July 24, 2005
As a political commentator that often takes sides in Nigerian political debates, it is uncharacteristic to proffer compromise as a palatable option when the right of any constituent part of our nation is concerned. But the recent upheaval at the political reform conference over the derivation question blows no one good. It would only lead to the exchange of diatribe, possible disintegration of the confab and handing victory to the naysayer that said “it was impossible for Nigerians to talk about their future in a roundtable anyway”. It would be victory for the dark undemocratic forces, the oligarchy that have laid stranglehold on our national polity and the cabal that would want to see a return to the hey days of militocracy and neo-colonialism.
The quest of the south-south geopolitical region for a fair and equitable share of the national revenue is just and right. For any one, Northerner or Southerner to suggest otherwise is unpatriotic, greedy and totally ignoble – especially ignorant of the history of the minorities in our nation and their struggle for self determination and inclusion. After being the trump card in any election, the region have been subjugated to military repression by a military controlled by the ethnic majorities, and have paid for being the goose that lay the golden eggs with their lives. It is high time, we as a people are committed to the spirit of freedom- which are equity, justice and the rule of law. In the absence of these three foundations of a modern society, we build in vein and it was highly disconcerting to see political juggernauts making suggestions to the contrary at the political conference using voodoo based geology that postulated that southern oil flowed from the arid north to form in the south or using the false premise that the right of control of God bestowed resources lie with an imperial national government.
On the other hand, we cannot forget the ideals of our federation. Our fore fathers foresaw a nation though uneven in bestowment, but equally achieving greatness and glory; founded firmly on the principles of unity and faith, peace and progress. For in the absence of unity, our faith in the divine and manifest destiny of our nation is in vain and without peace we cannot achieve progress. Peace can only be achieved through justice, and unity can be achieved through selfless sharing.
Based on this background, this humble citizen suggest that political commandoes from the resources rich Niger Delta and the numerically strong North can achieve true compromise by looking inwards and making sacrifices for the future of a peaceful and stronger Nigeria. We all have a stake in this nation, for without the food of the North the Niger Delta would hunger, indeed without the oil of the south-south, the Northerners plant in vain! Without the commercial ingenuity of the Easterners we cannot achieve our true potential as a nation and without the skilled and entrepreneurial power of the South-West we cannot achieve greatness! Every part is important, and an acknowledgement of this fact makes a compromise an imperative not a choice.
At the heart of this compromise is forgiveness and apology. An apology from the ‘powers that were’ to the people of the south-south would indeed not suffice but would be a move in the right direction. A heart of forgiveness would allow the minorities in the Niger Delta begin to feel like true Nigerians that they are.
The compromise seeks an equitable and fair distribution of our national resources. It is suggested that going by the dictate of the Supreme Court on the Resource allocation issue, all mineral resources beyond the continental shelf adjudged to be the borders of any state should be shared by a unique formula to all states of the federation and should be excluded from derivation. However, all on-shore mineral exploration, agriculture activities, tax collection and any revenue emanating from states to the federal purse should including Value Added Tax, Corporate Tax and Federal Income Taxes should be shared on the basis of 30% derivation initially that should be graduated in increment steps of 5% until we achieve a 50% derivation every yea, at which it would plateau. That way all states would have enough time to adjust to the new schedule and it would leave them time to boost internal revenue generation to the national purse in order to be eligible for a more giant share. Furthermore, royalties from mineral exploration should be surrendered 100% to the local government from which such is mined, while the national government should ensure states practice a 50% derivation principle in the allocation of resources to their local government as well.
In addition to this 25% of the national purse should be shared on the basis of population and the remainder 25% on the basis of equality. These three barometric are the only legitimate parameters- need , land mass and all other fiscal gibberish are those nonsense imposed by the oligarchy and should be discarded! From this conference, what is not being discussed is the manner in which the federal and state government should share the national income. It is unjust for the over bloated and disconnected federal government to earn more than half of the national income, it is suggested that states should be given more responsibilities including security and local government funding and their share of the national purse should increase. This would assuage the resource poor but agriculturally rich northerners. Since spending on security would not represent as much of proportion of the state. The state and federal government can each have 40% of the national purse leaving the remaining 20% for special purposes including ecology, federal capital territories, Lagos, National Health Service and Education Trust Fund. What we have not gotten from this confab is the much desired decentralization of federal powers and the reduction of the powers of the almighty presidency!
Compromise is not cowardice, for the failure of this conference would be a sad epitaph on the grave of all attendees excluding no one. The inability of the conference to resolve age long issues like tenure of public officers, resource allocation, state police, election of public officers and other contentious issues including a virile and durable structure of government is saddening. This is definitely not the last conference of its kind in our country; this is only a prelude to many that would take place in the future until the spirit of reform and change subdues our nation for the better. The spirit of self determination cannot be quelled, neither can injustice reign forever! God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.