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Resource Control, Revenue Sharing Formula Tears Confab Members Apart

Source: pointblanknews.com
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Discussions on issues listed under the Exclusive and Concurrent Lists in

the 1999 Constitution took priority position on Thursday as the Committee

on Devolution of Power continued its deliberation at the on-going National

Conference holding in Abuja.
However, initial focus was on the contentious issue of fiscal

responsibility as it concerns resource control, sharing of revenue and the

sharing formula.
Repeatedly, Co-Chairman of the Committee and former Governor of Akwa Ibom

State, Obong Victor Attah called Committee members to order as emotions

almost took over although that was not the first issue slated for

discussion.
After listening to comments and arguments, Attah in his remarks, said as

the co-chairman of the committee, he would do his best to be impartial in

decision-making but it would be impossible for him to pretend not to come

from somewhere.
He cautioned against attempt by anybody to reopen the issue of

reintroducing the on-shore off-shore dichotomy or any dichotomy between

naturally occurring and man-made resources, “let us think instead of how

to ramp up the derivation percentage over time, remembering that it used

to stand at 50%.”
The former Governor urged the Committee to examine how to make remedial

measures to reclaim polluted lands and waters and how to stop further

degradation.
Above all, he said, “we have to look at how to assist all other parts of

this country to develop their inert potentials and resources. This is the

direction in which I thought the discussions were leading us.

“If we follow that way, we would, by consensus, have practicalised the

true concept of being our brother's keeper which does not suggest the

inequitable pattern of you bring, we share, but rather the one that says I

bring, you bring, together we grow.”
The co-chairman drew attention to the fact that oil will one day finish in

the Niger Delta and that the craze to share oil revenue has not allowed

anybody to consider what will happen to the impoverished oil producing

communities when the wells dry up.
He analysed: “Let me say that the people of the Niger Delta are very

conscious of this and indeed this has been their greatest fear. Time will

come when the oil will dry up completely, then what will happen to the

people of the Niger Delta? No farmland and no fishing in the polluted

waters.”
Attah said available information indicate availability of oil in the

north; and that it was not quite long ago when gas emissions were

confirmed in Kiru in Kano State.
He disclosed that the stream that runs from Chad Republic goes through

Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, to Niger and to Libya

The co-chairman also mentioned rich deposits of limestone, high quality

gold and even the presence of uranium as part of what he called the

presence of a scandalous amount of solid mineral deposits across the

north.
Then he asked: “Why have we not developed this sector and elevate it to

the same status level as the oil industry? Time will come – I would rather

say that time has come; and this committee has the ability and therefore

must chart the way through consensus.”
Presently, he informed the delegates that building a one-kilometer road in

the Niger Delta costs not less than N900 million because first, “you have

to dam the water and pump it out; next you excavate and cart away all the

bad earth sometimes to a depth of two metres or more.

“Then you backfill with good material which you obtain from a great

distance, then you compact and build your road…. Even the driveway to your

house has to be land filled and built with concrete.”

Co-Chairman of the Committee and former Inspector General of Police,

Ibrahim Coomasie, in his comments on resource control cautioned against

use of intimidation in a bid to win arguments.
He said every member should think maturely and make contributions in a

mature manner so that the country will gain from their experiences and

approach, adding, “We have been a country for 100 years, now we are

charting a new course. We have so many things in common.”

Coomasie said resource control remains a settled issue “as contained in

the Constitution,” explaining that government's over-dependence on oil,

“which is the bone of contention,” has led to the stagnation of other

revenue-yielding sources.
The co-chairman disclosed that federal monthly allocations to Akwa Ibom,

Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta States were far more than what all the states in

the north earn within the same period.
“We should look for compromise. I know what my people in the north want.

But I will leave that for other members to say. We have to be very careful

of what decision we take, we have to be careful about our opinion, we must

not try to intimidate anybody,” said Coomasie.
In the course of examining and transferring items from the Exclusive List

to the Concurrent List, disagreement erupted on Item 39 of the Exclusive

List which deals with Mines and Minerals, including oil fields, oil mining

and natural gas.
While delegates from the south believed moving the item to the Concurrent

List would create opportunity for state governments to have a say in the

exploitation of such minerals, delegates from the north believed it was

another way of endorsing resource control.
During the debate, delegates from the south insisted that what was

required was not transfer of ownership of minerals to the states but

involvement of the states or the regional governments in the exploitation

of such minerals without a hundred per cent stringent control by the

federal government.
Emotions almost spilled over when delegates from the north were of the

opinion that unlike other items on the list, any attempt to shift the item

from Exclusive to Concurrent would amount to a breach of the Constitution.

Attah, who moderated the session, quickly stepped in and repeatedly

explained why delegates should be guided by the need for a comprehensive

development of the nation using available resources instead of holding

each other in suspicion.
At the end, he advised all members of the committee to return on Monday

with a suggestion on how the monopoly of control of mineral resources by

the federal government could be extended to the state although the federal

government would always grant the required license for the mining of such

minerals.
Other items already moved from the Exclusive to Concurrent List included

Bankruptcy and Insolvency; Registration of birth and deaths; Commercial

and Industrial Monopolies; Labour Matters; and Evidence, finger prints

identification and criminal records.
On Wednesday, all the three sub-committees on National Security

deliberated on the memoranda received from the public and other working

papers according to the thematic heads assigned to each sub-committee, but

due to lack of memoranda from certain government agencies, the committees

requested the Conference Secretariat to invite the agencies to either

attend their meetings or submit memos to enable the committee carry out

their work effectively.
They agencies are: The Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Federal Road Safety

Commission (FRSC), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Prisons Service

(NPS), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), National Drug Law

Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA),

Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), National Intelligence Agency (NAI) and

the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

While continuing on their deliberations on the memos received, the sub

committees agreed to meet in plenary on Friday (tomorrow), to assess the

level of work done by each committee and to review their interim reports.