By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
ASABA—OIL producing communities in Delta State, weekend, urged the Federal Government to discontinue further disbursement of the 13 per cent derivation fund to Niger Delta governors, saying the money did not belong to state governments, but host communities.
Chairman, Oil and Gas Producing Communities of Nigeria, Prince Maikpobi Okareme and Secretary, Board of Trustees, 13 Per Cent Derivation Fund, Mr Hendrick Opukeme, said separately that the oil communities would no longer accept further payment of the money to their governors because it was illegal.
Okareme, a national coordinator of Host Communities of Nigeria, HOSTCOM, told Vanguard: “The oil producing areas under the auspices of TROMPCON and HOSTCOM, which I was privileged to coordinate at the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, is strongly of the opinion that the current 13 per cent derivation should not form part of the consolidated revenue of the states to be continuously misapplied by them.
Having failed to use derivation fund for the original purpose of ameliorating the negative effects of oil production on the people and environment, we now insist that the Federal Government should immediately stop disbursing the 13 per cent derivation to states to be used as a budgetary item.
“Any percentage of the fund already set aside by states such as Ondo, Delta, Abia and Edo should be sent directly to recognized commissions manned exclusively by nominees of host communities, example Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC.
The balance of such funds to the five states together with the full derivation funds to Rivers and Akwa Ibom should now be paid into an escrow account in line with the recommendation of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, since 2002.We sincerely believe that the channeling of the 13 per cent derivation fund towards the development of the oil producing areas is a magic strategy towards solving the unrelenting Niger Delta crisis.”
Speaking, Mr. Opukeme, who was among the PANDEF members that visited President Muhammadu Buhari, last Tuesday, said: “First, the oil and gas producing communities express disappointment with the leadership of PANDEF in their meeting with Mr. President. The most important of all the issues researched for presentation to the Federal Government was the 13 per cent derivation fund, which today stands at N20 billion monthly.
This was item two on the list and it is so important to the development and socioeconomic growth of the communities. But, over the last 17 years, the various state governors have received in error from the federal government the proceeds of the fund, rather than the host communities, who are the real owners.”