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Governors Ripped Off Oil Producing Communities Of N7.282trn in 13 Years, Says Clark

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SAN FRANCISCO, December 27, (THEWILL) – Oil and gas producing communities in the country have been short-changed to the tune of N7.282 trillion over the past 13 years as the various state governments who collected the whopping sum of money on their behalf from the Federal Government through the 13 percent derivation fund had done little or nothing for the communities with the funds.

Making this allegation was a former Federal Commissioner for Information and South-South leader, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, who also described the oil and gas producing state governors as greedy over the appropriation of the 13 per cent derivation fund meant for the oil and gas producing communities.

Clark said it was unconstitutional for the Federal Government to continue the payment of the 13 per cent derivation fund to oil producing communities through the governments of their states as he called for an end to the payment.

“The provision in the 1999 Constitution is clear: 13 per cent derivation fund stands on its own.

“It is not part of any consolidated revenue of any tier of government or part of any State Joint Local Government Account; 13 per cent derivation fund should, therefore, be treated on its own,” he said.

He noted that it was the pressure mounted by oil and gas communities that made the 13 percent derivation fund a reality, saying it was one of the main decisions and resolutions of the 1994/95 Constitutional Conference.

Clark maintained that oil and gas communities exerted great pressure again on the 1999 constitutional drafting committee to ensure that the 13 percent derivation fund was enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.

He further asserted that Section 162 (2) of the 1999 constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria is specific about the ownership of the fund saying, "The fund is for oil and gas producing communities who are the source of derivation as the basis of derivation principle in the 1999 Constitution."

He added that there was no mention of any state government in the provision of Section 162 (2) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria in the disbursement of the fund.

Clark made these submissions in Warri, the Delta State capital, while hosting the leaders of the Oil and Gas Producing Communities of Nigeria, led by the traditional Prime Minister of Gbaramatu Kingdom and former Chairman of Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, Chief Wellington Okirika, who called on him.

He therefore called on the Federal Government to immediately stop the payment to the state governments, Clark, saying there was nowhere in the 1999 Constitution where it was stipulated that the 13 per cent derivation fund should be paid through any state government.

According to the Ijaw leader, only direct allocation of the 13 per cent fund, through an administrative committee, would guarantee rapid transformation of the deprived and neglected oil and gas producing communities.