The Executive Governor of Bayelsa State, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, recently granted a press interview to an international news media where he raised some serious issues concerning the Federal Government’s management of revenues earnings from crude oil as well as activities oil companies operating in the state.
Outside carpeting the federal government on his quest for resource control, the governor picked on Oil Companies operating in the state, for confrontation over an issue that are beyond the control of the duo.
While the governor may be right in advocating for resource control, natural justice demands that he doesn’t have to drag corporate entities or entrepreneurs who are helping build the economy into disrepute to achieve his goals.
Of course, the revenue supposedly associated with an oil and gas host community is becoming an unbearable burden that one has to awake from its deception, owing to the required and necessary amenities, infrastructural development that are in the gaze of ‘Vague Futurism’ for the people of Bayelsa state.
The Governor who blamed the companies and its operations for the challenges he is having in the state is being economical with the truth. Furthermore, castigating them, as well as saying he has nothing to do with the state as well as describing these companies in the state as ‘mafia like,’ does not proffer solution to the perceived challenges facing the state.
The attack only gives credence to the assumptions in some quarters that recent change in altitude of the host communities to the company may have been sponsored by the state government.
For instance, a group in an attempt to stop Aiteo from renewing her operating license posted as leaders of host communities filed a suit at the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, against the company including others like the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Federal Ministry of Environment, the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and the Site Exploration and Production Limited as co-defendants.
The said aggrieved communities, led by their representatives in the suit marked FHC/YNG/CS/62/2015, are asking the court for an order setting aside the application, steps and processes initiated by Aiteo Exploration and Production Limited, identified as the fifth defendant, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
The move can be said to be a fallout of what the governor explained in the said interview as the state’s failure to win the bid for the OML 29, an oil block currently operated by Aiteo.
How successful is 13 % derivation fund managed
A quick retrospect on the issue, posses lamentations on the NorthErnest Hemingway, which has not the privilege to become an oil producing States. For facts, immerse development could have beckoned on the North and West if it had one third of oil revenue proceeds delivered to it as in the case of the Bayelsa state and the Niger Delta region.
While one is not against the quest for resource control, the important question that comes to mind when this argument surfaces is to what use the current 13 percent derivation allocations be put? How has the huge funds accruing from it affected the lives of the indigenes of the Niger Delta since the inception of the initiative?
Despite claims of neglect and abandonment, investigation has revealed that governments of oil-producing states in Nigeria had over the years, failed to utilize the resources provided them to develop their states and the region.
Data obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, revealed that oil-producing states received N7.006 trillion as payments under the 13 per cent Derivation principle over the last 18 years, from 1999 to 2016.
Analysis of the payments showed that from 1999 to 2003, N360.4 billion was paid to oil-producing states; N1.338 trillion were paid to the states between from 2004 and 2007; 2008 to 2011 saw the states receiving N2.36 trillion, while from 2012 to 2016, the states received N2.947 trillion.
But the huge sum notwithstanding, the Niger Delta region continues to suffer from massive infrastructure decay, widespread poverty and environmental degradation, among numerous others.
Consequently, the fund has become a subject of controversy between the oil-producing communities and their various states government, with the former asking the Federal Government to start paying the money directly to the communities and not into the coffers of the state.
Alarmed at the lack of development in oil-producing states despite the huge amount pumped into the states over the years, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, disclosed that the Federal Government is considering stripping states of the proceeds of the 13 per cent derivation funds, making sure that the funds are used for the development of oil-producing communities.
According to the minister, “The biggest problem in the Niger Delta is that as you go from point to point, you really cannot see any infrastructural investment. The Presidency is also reviewing a proposal that we have given him to look at how the 13 per cent derivation is applied.
“Right now it is a budgeting tool for state governments. We are going to be appealing to them to begin to put quite a bit of that into the core areas of the oil-producing communities, and not just to see it as a budgeting number,” the minister insisted.
The minister is not alone in this line of thinking, as President of Host Communities Producing Oil and Gas in Nigeria, HOSCON, Mr. Mike Emuh, in an interview with journalists recently called on the Federal Government to stop remitting the 13 per cent derivation allocation to the states.
According to him, the law, as amended in the 1999 Constitution, Section 162, Sub-section 2, states that 13 percent derivation should be given to the host communities, adding that there is no law in Nigeria that stated that the fund should be given to a state governor or to a local government.
He said, “It was a gross misplacement of priority that the 13 per cent derivation funds were given to governors who lavished the money for the past 16 years without any development – human capital development and infrastructural development.
“Over 10 trillion naira had gone down the drain by those that claimed the money by then and this wrong act is still in practice till now.”
There is no doubt that these calls emanating from stakeholders within the region is an indication that state governors has failed to utilized the funds at their disposal judiciously.
This is why the call to refresh our minds on the need to appreciate investors like as some of the oil companies who through hard work have created employment for over 20,000 Nigerians and are contributing meaningfully to the country’s economic development and growth.
To this end Bayelsans are employing the host community governors to look inward and as a matter of urgency restore the beauty and accolades that should be associated with an host community rather than trading blames. The people of Bayelsa state awaits structures and enabling environment to foster relentless investments as well as investors to the state to grow it economy for the future of the unborn generations.
…An envisioned voice from the North writes
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