By Michael Eboh
Oil-producing communities under the aegis of Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas, HOSCON, has accused past and present governors of the Niger Delta of mismanaging the 13 per cent Derivation funds due states in the region, totaling N12 trillion over 18 years.
In an interview with Vanguard in Abuja, President of HOSCON, Mr. Mike Emuh, lamented that despite the huge allocation to the region over these years, there was not a single evidence of the utilization of the fund for the betterment of the people and the communities.
He called on the President to henceforth, cease paying the funds to the state governors and should instead, set up a committee, commission or Board that would oversee the release of the 13% Derivation money to oil-producing communities.
He said, “No law in the country states that 13 per cent derivation fund should be given to state governments. The President should set up a committee, commission or a Board that would manage the derivation money. It should be removed from the hands of the governors.
“The money the governors are controlling today do not belong to them, it belongs to the host communities. The money should be removed from the hands of the governors and given to the host communities to manage.
“These governors have manage the 13% derivation fund for 16 to 18 years, over N12 trillion, yet we do not see the evidence of it in the Niger Delta. According to the law, the money belongs to the host communities, not to the state or local governments.”
Emuh also accused politicians of fuelling militancy in the Niger Delta region, stating that these unscrupulous individuals had perpetually under-developed the region for their own selfish interest.
He said, “The militancy that was experienced in the Niger Delta was caused by politicians, not by traditional rulers, not by host communities’ leaders. The boys have come to realize that. We spoke to them to stop whatever was illegal towards oil installations in the Niger Delta. For over one year now, they have listened to us and there is relative peace in the region at the moment.
“The youth would no longer listen to the politicians, because they had been disappointed. They cannot even listen to the former militants and those that call themselves former warlords, who were getting these things for themselves.”
He noted that to ensure this issue of pipeline surveillance contract comes into fruition, HOSCON had registered several security companies with the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC and had also entered into partnership with the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC.
In addition, Emuh disclosed that HOSCON was also in talks with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, indigenous and international oil companies to create an enabling environment for foreign investments to come in and develop the Niger Delta, as well as Nigeria in general.
“We have applied to the Ministry of Agriculture; we intend setting up farms all over the Niger Delta region to create jobs for our youths. HOSCON is also training youths on skills acquisition at its headquarters in Warri, for free,” he explained.
Alarmed at the lack of development in the Niger Delta region, despite the huge amount pumped into the states over the years, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, had disclosed that the Federal Government was 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.
He bemoaned the fact that the fund has become a budgeting tool for most of the states, instead of using the funds for the actual purpose they were meant for.
He said, “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.”
Also speaking on the issue, Facilitator of the Niger Delta Democratic Union, NDDU, Mr. Akpo Mudiaga-Odje, had confirmed that from year 2,000 till date there had been no signs of what the derivation fund had been used for in the region.
He declared that it would be counter-productive if the region is calling for an increase in the 13 per cent derivation, whilst states of the Niger Delta are unable to show what they have so far done with the funds hitherto received as derivation from December 2000 till date.
Furthermore, he said, “It is on this note that we call for the establishment of State Oil Commissions by all States in the Region, to enable us channel a substantial percentage of the 13 per cent derivation and/or its increase, to the oil producing communities for their development and well being, since they are the primary producers of the oil and gas resources upon which derivation is being paid.
He said, “Such Oil Commissions should be duly supervised by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) as well as the Ministry of the Niger Delta in partnership with Transparency International, International Oil Companies (IOC), Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board and the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, to ensure service delivery and that derivation funds are not misappropriated or diverted by those who administer these said oil commissions.”
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