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Bayelsa Offshore Derivation: A Needless Controversy

Source: huhuonline.com
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I must clarify my stance before I proceed to write these verses.   I am a vehement advocate of good governance, and I have devoted about 17 years of my life in the struggle for entrenching a commodious life. I have never wavered in my commitment

 towards good governance. When the Sylva administration came on stream, there was immense optimism but things went awry when the politicians displaced the technocrats. Even amidst the nugget of criticisms, I understood the conspiracy against the Governor and the seemingly daunting development challenges facing the State. I hold the view (and I have not changed) that ab initio, the helmsman had good intentions but was somehow disappointed self aggrandizing politicians and contractors who see governance as a 'money sharing exercise'. Pleasantly, this 'business as usual scenario' has been put behind us.

  One of the most critical challenges of the administration was the intensification of militancy, as manifested in kidnapping, violation of oil facilities, oil bunkering and militarization of the State. Bayelsa State spent huge resources on Security of lives and property. Secondly, militancy negatively affected the State's oil production quota, which diminished drastically. This was amidst expanding responsibilities. For example, in 2009, Bayelsa State got a paltry N96.037 billion from the Federal Account because of the massive vandalization ofoil facilities in the State. This was less that 50% of projected revenues for the year 2009.

  The second challenge the State had to contend with was the issue of sycophancy most of the people around him are sycophants who have refused to tell him the truth but good governance does not thrive on sycophancy, neither does policy implementation succeeds on the basis of falsehood. A State Governor is like a pilot, who needs the assistance of engineers and other crewmen. The pilot cannot do everything. The shortfall in revenue did not diminish the huge security expenditure of maintaining the Joint Military Task Force, JTF, the Bayelsa Volunteers and other intelligence -cum-surveillance activities in the creeks.

  What Governor Timipre Sylva has pushed for is economic and environmental justice where every man gets what belongs to him. For me, Chief Timipre Sylva, has demonstrated his doggedness in fighting for justice, which I think is one of the touchstones of a leader.

  In 2002, when the International Court of Justice ruled that Bakassi be ceded to the Republic of Cameroun, the National Boundary Commission and the Revenue Mobilization And Fiscal Commission, RMAFC advised President Obasanjo   to approve that 50% production of the some listed offshore oil wells namely:   Abana, Adanga, ADSW, ADNH, Adanga South, Ebughu East, Ebgughu NE, Mimbo, and Bogl on the boarder of Akwa Ibom and Cross River States benefitted from the offshore derivation. Nobody raised any alarm because oil production has impaired local ecosystems in areas such as Nigeria's Niger Delta raising red flags for serious environmental concerns.

  Confronted by the onerous task of developing an essentially difficult terrain, and the peculiar challenges of oil company induced ecological problems such as sea shore erosion, environmental pollution and the exorbitant cost providing physical infrastructure, Governor Timipre Sylva, in February 2010, had asked for restitution of the offshore derivation on the ground of the severe ecological damage suffered by the State The grounds for his petition are the severe   environmental impact on the area and the increasing   security burden of   Bayelsa State.

  Now, some hate mongers have started to politicize the derivation payable to the State for oil wells offshore. Let it be placed on record that the security responsibilities of Bayelsa State are monumental. During the same period, Bayelsa State dropped from her 2 nd position to a distant 4 th position on the hierarchy of oil production, with progressively diminishing accruals. It was the revenue shortfalls that prompted the State to resort to the N50 bond market for financing heavy infrastructural projects - some of which are ready for commissioning by President Goodluck Jonathan.

  This request was only granted after several correspondences between the State Government, the office of the Secretary to the Federal Government, the RMAFC and the National Boundary Commission, NBC. This act has been given a media hype and severally misinterpreted by even opinion leaders as an act of favouritism rather than a bold move to redress the injustices meted out to the people of Bayelsa State.

  The Executive Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva in a memo titled REQUEST FOR ATTRIBUTION OF SOME LITTORAL OIL FIELDS. To His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR (then Acting President) dated February 16, 2010. In the said memo, the Executive Governor of Bayelsa State recalled that after the abrogation of the Offshore - Onshore Dichotomy Act of 2004, the National Boundary Commission (NBC) delimited the maritime boundaries of littoral States. After the exercise it was discovered that Bayelsa State had been gravely disadvantaged and short-changed.

  It was against the background of the historic neglect and the ecological damages of coastline erosion, which had washed away 1000 meter of land into the ocean, frequent oil spillages, and other damages attendant to the mining of crude oil that provided justification for Bayelsa State to appeal to the Federal Government to treat the State as a 'special case'. Verily, this action is in breach of the Onshore - Offshore dichotomy in the application of the 13% derivation fund.

  The Executive Governor of Bayelsa State was very clear in his attribution request and pinpointed that the following oilfields and wells be considered. Akpo oilfield; Chota oilfield N'golo oilfield; Nuwa oilfield; Agbami oilfield; Aparo oilfield; Bonga oilfield; Oberan oilfield and Ene oilfield.

  It was on this basis that the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation did a memo titled RE: REQUEST FOR ATTRIBUTION OF SOME LITTORAL OILFIELDS with Reference No.SH/VP/SEC/35 on March 9 th 2010 to the Chairman, Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) also copied the Accountant General of the Federation. The result was that on September 21 st , 2010, the RMAFC acknowledged the receipt of the letter with Reference No.RMC/ALO/51/52/12/383 confirmed that it had concluded consultations with all relevant authorities. The National Boundary Commission (NBC) recommended to Mr. President that Bayelsa State request be favorably considered especially given the volatile security issues involved and the environmental degradation generated from these oil wells.

  Specifically, the grounds for the approval of the approval of the nine offshore oilfields derivation funds are as follows:

§   Bayelsa has the longest coastline of all oil producing States in the Federation  

§   The State complained of the porous nature of this coastline, which makes it easy for militants to attack the State and nation through boarder. The nation is losing revenue as a result.

§   Meanwhile, the State alone shoulders all the financial burden of policing the boarder and   protecting oil wells    

§   The State is suffering serious environmental degradation through exploration and attacks on oil formations, and the securing of the long boarder is based on national security The main reasons the RMAFC Considered In agreeing to some compensation include the following:

§   The National Boundary Commission made some recommendations based on the volatility of Bayelsa Coastline  

§   The RMAFC did not give 13 % derivation on the three oil wells  

§   RMAFC, however, agreed for some production percentage from only three oil wells as compensation considered appropriate to assist the State with security and environmental challenges  

§   Decision consistent with Nigerian history and precedent  

§   Similar consideration accorded State such as Akwa Ibom and Ondo State before the onshore/offshore dichotomy  

§   Recently, Cross River State (no longer a littoral State) as a result of the ceding of Bakassi to Cameroon, is being compensated for the negative environmental and exploitation on its border with Akwa Ibom  

  Considering the strategic importance of Bayelsa State to the hydrocarbon industry of Bayelsa State of crude oil and gas and the national threat it poses in the event of any disruption, the Commission at its meeting of 16 th to 17 th September, 2010 carefully considered the request of the Bayelsa State Government and arrived at the decision that the Commission approved 50% of crude oil and gas production of the said nine oilfields be attributed to Bayelsa State. The letter was copied to the AGF for implementation effective from October 2010. These

  Mr. President approved that recommendation via a letter with Ref. SH/AGP/SEC/81 dated may 5 th 2010. The recommendations of NBC and the subsequent approval of the above request was the precedent that had added a stamp of authenticity to the request made by the Bayelsa State Government and graciously approved by the Presidency.

  In the spirit of Niger Delta Solidarity, I appeal to the conscience of all oil producing States, including the Governors to support Bayelsa State in the light of her disadvantaged position of Bayelsa State. It was Joseph Cook who essayed' Conscience is our magnetic compass, reason our chart' Let conscience and commonsense prevail in this matter.

  I commend President Goodluck Jonathan for graciously approving the expeditious implementation of the derivation funds on the nine oil wells.   I also urge the Government of Bayelsa State to judiciously utilize the resources for the betterment of the people.   In my candid opinion, the completion of the three Senatorial District Roads should be given utmost priority because of its immense economic and strategic advantages.   Idumange John, wrote Nembe- Bayelsa State